As a result of a half-million dollar investment, Seton Medical Center Hays is now a full-fledged Level 3 advanced trauma center.
The local area hospital, located in Kyle, was designated as a Level 3 center earlier this spring, which means instead of it being a stabilize-and-transfer facility, Seton Hays can treat advanced trauma patients without sending them to Austin for more advanced care.
Seton Hays had a ceremony to mark the momentous designation June 16 and to specifically identify the level of medical trauma cases that could be seen at the hospital based on the new designation.
Medical centers can be designated from levels 1 to 4. Level 4 is the most basic where patients are stabilized then transferred, level 3 advanced trauma centers can treat any patient as long as they are stable.
The only Level 1 trauma center in the area is the Dell Seton Medical Center in downtown Austin.
Neal Kelley, Seton Hays chief operating officer, projected population in 2026 to be 29% more than it is now.
“If you’re stable, regardless of mechanism, we can take care of you here,” Dr. Oscar Rios, MD, Seton Hays trauma director, said. “If you have a fractured pelvis or broken ribs, we can treat you here.”
Rios said in most trauma cases, the patient is stable and presents a high blood pressure and a stable heart rate. Instead of transferring such cases as a small laceration or small head injury, they can now be treated at Seton Hays.
“Things you won’t see treated here are the unstable, critically ill patients that require a more advanced trauma center,” Rios said.
Rios said the new designation helps to relieve the burden on families of patients from having to travel great distances to be with family while taking off work and school to do so.
“Our operating room (OR) is open 24 hours a day, if you’re stable this is where you want to be,” Rios said. “We have partnered with orthopedic surgeons that are the same doctors you would see at hospitals in Austin with the same skills and expertise.”
Kelley said in a later interview that the $500,000 from Ascension went toward new advanced equipment in the OR for more advanced surgical procedures. Rios stressed that great patient care comes from more than the right equipment.
“Seton of Hays invested half a million dollars into operating rooms to help our community but it’s not just about having the right equipment, it’s having the right doctors,” Rios said.
Kelley said Seton Hays is a 3+ facility due to the level of doctors available from a Level 1 facility, such as Dell Seton.
“Now that we have this capability, many, many patients, in fact the majority of patients, can be treated here in Kyle,” Kelley said.
David Smith, San Marcos Hays County EMS chief, praised the partnership with Seton Hays and the new designation. He said it would be very beneficial to EMS personnel as the number of incidents along the I-35 corridor continue to increase.
“Next year, we expect to respond to almost 14,000 incidents on the I-35 corridor alone,” Smith said, “That’s a 50 percent increase from only two years ago.”
Rios said the advanced trauma distinction meant more advanced trauma certifications such as advanced heart and pediatric support for nurses and staff.
“We want to send a message to the community that we are here for you, we are able, we are capable, and we are safe and look forward to taking care of you and your family,” Rios said.