University Hospitals Implements Regional Trauma Initiative

September 19, 2015

News Release

Department of Marketing and Communications
3605 Warrensville Center Road
Shaker Heights, OH, 44122

May 8, 2015

Contacts: Alicia Reale

Phone: 216.844.5158


First step seeks Level I verification for UH Case Medical Center 

CLEVELAND – University Hospitals has announced plans to create a coordinated regional trauma network of UH hospitals. The initiative will enable UH to respond to community need for more immediate and enhanced access to high level trauma services in UH’s expanding coverage area.

As a next step, UH is working with input from local municipalities across Northeast Ohio to obtain Level I trauma center verification for UH Case Medical Center from the American College of Surgeons. ACS establishes criteria that ensure trauma care capability and institutional performance.   

The Level I trauma center at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland’s University Circle will coordinate with an extended regional trauma system that includes four existing Level III trauma centers at UH Geauga Medical Center, St. John Medical Center in Westlake, Southwest General Health Center in Middleburg Heights, and in Ravenna, Robinson Memorial Hospital, which officially joins UH later this year. Additionally, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, on UH’s main campus, is the region’s only Level I center for children and adolescents. The UH regional trauma network will provide better coordinated care because participating facilities have the same electronic medical record system, shared clinical processes and consistent staff training. 

“When it comes to trauma, time is a life-or-death matter,” said Michael Anderson, MD, Chief Medical Officer of UH Case Medical Center. “We are making a major commitment to providing all trauma victims the highest level of care they need and deserve, and doing it quickly and efficiently.”

“We are pleased that University Hospitals is planning to provide this vital community resource in such close proximity to our community,” said Pat Sweeney, Shaker Heights Fire Chief. “When trauma strikes, it is crucial that trauma victims get the care they need to survive as quickly as possible. The more rapidly patients can be transported to Level I trauma centers, the better the chance of survival. This will be an important resource for our residents who can rest assured that if they are seriously injured, the highest level of care is less than 10 minutes away.”

Because time is of the essence in dealing with trauma and other critical emergencies, UH also is working with local emergency medical service teams to help equip community response teams with potentially lifesaving equipment to use before arriving at hospitals. For example, UH has helped provide equipment that enables local EMS crews to treat heart attack and stroke patients en route to hospitals. 

Level I trauma centers provide the highest level of total care for every aspect of injury – from prevention through rehabilitation. The new facility would provide residents in Northeast Ohio – especially the east side of Cleveland – increased access to the highest level of trauma services.

Compared to many similarly sized and smaller cities, Cleveland is underserved. Greater Cleveland, with 2.1 million people, has only one Level I trauma centers for adults – MetroHealth Medical Center on Cleveland’s west side. By comparison, St. Louis has three adult Level I trauma centers. Columbus and Cincinnati each have two. Greater Toledo, which is about one-third the size of Greater Cleveland, has three.

Currently there are no Level I adult trauma centers on Cleveland’s east side. Over the past 20 years, four trauma centers on the east side have closed including two Level I trauma centers (Mt. Sinai and St. Luke’s), one Level II (Huron Hospital), and the trauma center at St. Vincent Charity Hospital. 

According to a 2012 study by the City of Cleveland, travel times from Cleveland’s east side neighborhoods to a trauma center increased by an average of more than 5 minutes after Huron Hospital closed in 2011. These increased travel times impacted EMS transport times throughout the city.

“We have seen increased numbers of trauma cases brought to UH since the closing of Huron Hospital,” said Dr. Anderson. “The community expects us to be able to provide these critical services on Cleveland’s near east side.”

The Level I center at UH Case Medical Center will coordinate care with UH’s Level III trauma centers and others in the area. Level III centers provide resuscitation and stabilization of trauma patients, can admit single-injury patients, and will transfer patients with more complex injuries to the Level I center at UH Case Medical Center.

“There is a clear need for an additional Level I trauma center in Northeast Ohio,” said Keith Clancy, MD, Director of Trauma Services at UH. “This fills a critical need for a Level I on the east side of Cleveland and will decrease drive times for EMS crews. From age one to 44, trauma is the number one cause of death. Trauma is an extraordinarily time sensitive condition. When a patient suffers a traumatic injury, a critical factor in recovery is the time until definitive treatment.”

UH has been moving toward the development of a Level I trauma center for about a year. The system recruited Dr. Clancy, a trauma surgeon, along with six general surgeons, three orthopedic surgeons, a hand surgeon, a neurosurgeon, and additional nurses in anesthesia and intensive care.

“The City of Euclid welcomes the expansion of University Hospitals’ trauma network to include a Level I center at Case Medical Center. This Center will provide an additional option for our residents when they require critical care medical services,” said Bill Cervenik, Mayor of the City of Euclid. 

Elements of a Level I trauma center include: 24-hour in-house coverage by general surgeons, and prompt availability of care in specialties such as orthopaedics, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, plastic surgery, oral and maxillofacial, and critical care. Level I centers also provide leadership in prevention and public education to surrounding communities, incorporate a comprehensive quality assessment program and operate an organized teaching and research effort to help direct new innovations in trauma care. 

ACS is a national scientific and educational association of surgeons that maintains a voluntary verification program for trauma centers. To become a verified trauma center, hospitals must meet ACS criteria. An ACS committee conducted a review of UH Case Medical Center in late April and is expected to issue a report in about 10 to 12 weeks. Upon receiving approval by the State of Ohio, the hospital will operate as a provisional Level I trauma center as the next step toward full verification.

About University Hospitals

University Hospitals, the second largest employer in Northeast Ohio with 25,000 employees, serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 15 hospitals, 30 outpatient health centers and primary care physician offices in 15 counties. At the core of our $3.5 billion health system is University Hospitals Case Medical Center, ranked among America’s 50 best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in all 12 methodology-ranked specialties. The primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, UH Case Medical Center is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research centers of excellence in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopaedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and genetics. Its main campus includes UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation; UH MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and UH Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University. For more information, go to





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