GREENBRAE -- The county of Marin approved a new 10-year trauma contract with Marin General Hospital, the county’s only designated trauma center.

"Our partnership with Marin County Emergency Medical Services means that we will continue to provide high-quality trauma care for all of Marin County," said Mary Jane Boyd, director of trauma services. “As a community hospital, we are committed to meeting the health care needs of Marin County residents."

The hospital also was recently reverified as a Level III trauma center by the American College of Surgeons. That means the center has all the capabilities listed in the organization's Resources for Optimal Care of the Injured Patient manual.

The verification process, established in 1987, is conducted by an ad hoc committee within the college's Committee on Trauma. The process is designed to promote the development of trauma centers that provide the full spectrum of care, from prehospitalization through rehabilitation.

The hospital first received American College of Surgeons verification in 2009 and was the first center in California and only hospital in Marin to voluntarily do so. The college doesn't designate trauma centers. That's the function of the Marin County Emergency Medical Service.

There are five separate categories of verification in the committee's program, each of which has specific criteria that must be met. To receive verification for one of the five levels, hospitals undergo an on-site review by a team of experienced site reviewers, who use the current Resources for the Optimal Care of the Injured Patient manual as a guide.

“Marin General Hospital functions more like a Level II Trauma Center than a Level III,” says Dr. Edward Alfrey, the hospital's trauma center medical director. “For example, we have experienced neurosurgeons available 24/seven, and the majority of patients requiring urgent or emergent surgery can be treated at Marin General, which matches the Level II requirement.”

Injury is the leading cause of death for people younger than 44 in the U.S., and falls are a cause of injury for more than one-third of seniors older than 65. In addition, one-third of all emergency department visits result from injury and 8 percent of all hospital admissions.

Marin General's emergency services include its accredited chest pain center and primary stroke center designation.

"It’s critical to understand that the first hour after an injury or trauma is the most critical -- the Golden Hour -- quick assessment and treatment can save lives and prevent permanent disability," Dr. Alfrey said. "MGH has the system to provide exceptional trauma care right here in Marin."