South Texas Health System Hosts Inaugural Trauma Symposium to Better Prepare Local Medical, Emergency Response Personnel

Monday, September 27, 2021
Participants at the STHS Trauma Symposium

For medical professionals, education doesn’t end after obtaining their degree or certification. The South Texas Advance Symposium on Trauma & Critical Care, hosted by the South Texas Health System McAllen Trauma Department, focused on providing practical and clinically-relevant information for healthcare professionals treating patients at all stages of critical care and trauma.

There’s no denying trauma is a major health issue; it’s the leading cause of death for individuals up to the age of 45, according to the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma. In the United States alone, more than three million traumatic injuries occur each year, according to the CDC.

While certain strategies — such as the use of seatbelts and staying alert in your surroundings — can help reduce one's chances of suffering a life-altering injury, it is never entirely preventable. From falls and burns to motor vehicle accidents, the threat of trauma is always present, making it extremely important for medical professionals on the frontline of trauma and critical care to be up to date with the most advanced, practical and clinically-relevant information when it comes to their skills and training.

At South Texas Health System, continuing education is highly encouraged, not just for the medical personnel at its 11 facilities, but for all professionals involved in patient care throughout the Rio Grande Valley. On Saturday, September 11, South Texas Health System McAllen’s Trauma Department hosted its inaugural South Texas Advance Symposium on Trauma & Critical Care, which featured the participation of more than a dozen leading trauma professionals from across the country who work in hospitals, universities, nonprofit organizations, law enforcement and military environments.

Trauma Services at South Texas Health System McAllen

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“This educational conference was designed to lend useful information to a wide range of medical professionals and to provide insight on the challenging aspects faced in their daily practices,” said Dr. Carlos H. Palacio, Director of Research, Trauma Department, South Texas Health System McAllen. “Over the last several years, we have had a lot of advances in trauma care and it was time to bring that knowledge down here with those experts.”

Through its dedication and commitment to excellence, South Texas Health System McAllen’s Emergency Department became the first Level II Trauma Center in Hidalgo County, as designated by the Texas Department of State Health Services and the American College of Surgeons — Committee on Trauma.

“We have trauma surgeons in the hospital 24/7, so when you arrive you will be taken care of by trauma surgeons and it also means we have all the resources necessary to take care of your loved ones while they’re here,” Dr. Palacio said.

Symposium Topics

Each guest speaker presented their latest research findings and time-tested strategies related to their work in trauma and critical care to a live and web audience of more than 100 fellow physicians, healthcare and frontline workers, and medical students.

Topics included:

  • The Structure of Modern Combat Casualty Care, led by a general surgeon who has served as a special forces medic in multiple deployments
  • Acute Burn Resuscitation: ER to Initial Management, led by general and burn surgeon with the U.S. Army
  • Surgically Yours — A Final Airway Solution, led by a medical device inventor and lecturer
  • Front Liners: Our Modern Struggle with PTSD in Healthcare, led by a surgical intensivist

Addressing Mental Wellness

Held on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the symposium also served to commemorate the survivors and 2,996 lives lost in the attack and addressed the struggles PTSD frontline workers face, offering insight on how to approach mental wellness.

“Beyond discussing the current trends of trauma and critical care, it was also important for us to explore how to approach mental wellness,” Dr Palacio said. “Over the last year, healthcare providers have faced the most significant challenge of our generation with COVID-19, and it has imposed a lasting mental strain on each one of us.”

In addition to the full day educational conference, the three-day symposium also featured two days of courses in which physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals earned AMA and CME credits and certifications for Stop the Bleed and Mental Health First Aid.

“Sometimes we think we know it all and that we know how to approach a situation, but every day changes,” said Roosevelt Jasso, an officer with the Progreso Police Department who completed the Mental Health First Aid course. “There are times we run into sensitive cases as officers, and thanks to this class, now I have a better idea how to approach a person with a mental illness or disorder.”

Certificates of completion were presented to all symposium participants, and the presentations were recorded for future sharing with incoming medical personnel at South Texas Health System.

"At South Texas Health System, patients are the priority. And to be able to continue providing our patients with the best outcomes, we provide opportunities for our staff to stay current with the latest medical advancements and best practices,” said South Texas Health System McAllen CEO Todd Mann. “This symposium is not just beneficial to our trauma team and patients, but for other teams and patients from across the country as well. Collaboration is key to being able to offer the best systems of care and for reducing the tens of thousands of fatal trauma injuries that happen each year.”

Next year’s South Texas Advance Symposium on Trauma & Critical Care will take place on August 25, 2022.