The Next Level: MUSC Kids' Trauma Certification

Five members of the pediatric trauma team pictured in front of MUSC Children’s Health

by Helen Adams

The trauma center at MUSC Children’s Health has become the only kids’ trauma center in the state to achieve Level I verification from the American College of Surgeons (ACS). That’s the highest possible level.

Surgeon Chris Streck, M.D., directs the pediatric trauma medical program at MUSC. “The main factors that distinguish Level I pediatric trauma centers are volume and quality of patient care. That includes 24/7 coverage by specialists such as pediatric trauma surgeons, neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, emergency medicine providers, anesthesiologists, child abuse treatment experts and intensive care unit providers. Injury prevention outreach and quality and volume of research are also major factors.”

Nurse Madeline Gehrig, MSN, RN, manages the pediatric trauma program at MUSC. “What this verification means to our patients and their families is the assurance that they are receiving safe, innovative and high-quality care from some of the most knowledgeable and skilled medical providers in the industry.”

Streck said the trauma center team cares for kids hurt in major accidents or events. “The most common severe mechanisms of trauma that we care for are motor vehicle collisions, pedestrians and bicyclists struck by automobiles, falls from a height, bicycle- and golf cart-related injuries, gun- and knife-related trauma, burns and child abuse.”

MUSC Children’s Health was first named a pediatric Level I trauma center several years ago by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Then, DHEC started requiring hospitals to meet even higher standards set by the ACS, which MUSC Children’s Health has now done. This makes it one of just 59 Level I pediatric trauma centers in the country.

Streck said that, unfortunately, more than 90% of children hurt in the United States aren’t taken to trauma centers, at least not initially. “In trauma care, we refer to the golden hour, where early intervention can really make a difference.”

In other words, the earlier a trauma patient gets expert care, the better the chance of survival. “The pediatric trauma center at MUSC Children’s Health benefits children across the Lowcountry. We also get transfers of severely injured children from across the eastern half of South Carolina,” Streck said. “Having a high-level trauma center is like having good community amenities like parks, roads, schools and libraries where you may not inherently recognize their daily value until you need the resource, and then it’s very meaningful.”

The MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital & Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion, opening soon, will offer more state-of-the-art options for trauma patients and their families. “Our new facility’s infrastructure will match the high level of care that we provide to kids. This is a win for everyone in the community.”