South Texas Health System McAllen Celebrates its Official Comprehensive Level I Trauma Center Designation

Thursday, December 8, 2022
South Texas Health System McAllen Celebrates its Official Comprehensive Level I Trauma Center Designation

In the United States, trauma accounts for 37 million emergency department visits and 2.6 million hospital admissions each year, according to the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention. Trauma is the leading cause of death nationally among people aged 46 and younger.

Approximately 66% of all injury-related emergency room visits are for unintentional injuries, with motor vehicle traffic accidents the number 1 cause of death from unintentional injury, according to the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention.

In the event of a traumatic event, the people of the Rio Grande Valley can depend on South Texas Health System McAllen to provide the highest level of trauma and critical care following its official designation as a Comprehensive Level I Trauma Center by the Texas Department of State Health Services. To celebrate the facility’s important milestone, STHS McAllen hosted a special event on the hospital grounds on Thursday, December 8, featuring the participation of hospital administrators and staff, community leaders, first responders and other dignitaries.

The event highlighted STHS McAllen’s ability to provide the most comprehensive trauma and critical care 24 hours a day, seven days a week for every aspect of injury – from prevention and treatment to surgery and rehabilitation.

“The staff at STHS McAllen takes great pride in providing top-tier care to the hundreds of trauma patients who come through our emergency room each year,” says Todd Mann, Chief Executive Officer, STHS McAllen. “This Comprehensive Level I Trauma Center designation indicates that our facility has the manpower and resources required to deliver the highest level of care before, during and after a trauma event. Countless lives are saved each year in our emergency room, thanks to the tireless work and unwavering dedication of our physicians and staff in the emergency, trauma, surgery, rehabilitation, adult inpatient and injury prevention departments every day. This designation would certainly not be possible without them.”

As outlined by the American College of Surgeons’ Committee on Trauma, who verified STHS McAllen’s Trauma Center status in September 2022, a Level I Trauma Center provides the highest level of surgical care to trauma patients. It has a full range of specialists and equipment available 24 hours a day and must admit at least 1,200 trauma patients a year or have 240 admissions with an Injury Severity Score of more than 15 for adults. Throughout the years, STHS McAllen has exceeded these minimum requirements, admitting more than 1,250 trauma patients annually.

In addition to highlighting the hospital staff’s relentless work to achieve its Level I status, the event highlighted STHS McAllen’s key role as a member of South Texas Health System Trauma & Critical Care Institute. Comprised of the system’s 10 emergency departments, including six freestanding emergency departments, the institute is the largest and most comprehensive trauma and critical care network in the Rio Grande Valley, all at the ready to help treat critical injuries threatening life or limb, and if necessary, stabilize and transfer high-risk patients to STHS McAllen for trauma care at the highest level.

“STHS McAllen’s designation as a Level I Trauma Center and South Texas Health System’s network of emergency departments throughout the Valley demonstrates our commitment to provide high-quality trauma and critical care,” says Carlos Palacio, MD, Chairman, Department of Surgery at STHS McAllen. “I am honored to be a part of a system that is willing to commit the resources required to provide excellent patient care and improve health outcomes for the people of the Rio Grande Valley.”

During the program, attendees had the opportunity to hear from Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez and McAllen City Commissioner Pepe Cabeza de Vaca, among others; and, in a heartfelt moment, meet 20-year-old Enrique “Quique” Rodriguez, a former trauma patient who was treated at STHS McAllen after being involved in a traffic accident that nearly threatened his life.

“I’m thankful to everyone at STHS McAllen who was part of my recovery, and I really do believe this hospital was certified to be Level I before the designation. They managed my case perfectly, and I’m just honored to be speaking right now,” said Quique, who is studying to become a nurse. “I never realized how life can be taken from you at any moment. It’s motivated me more to be a nurse. I want to be able to take care of people the same way I was taken care of. I want to give back what was given to me.”  

In addition to its Level I Trauma Center, STHS McAllen is home to a Comprehensive Stroke Center and an accredited chest pain center. The facility actively advocates for trauma system development and works to improve the availability and quality of trauma care as an active member of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Regional Advisory Council.