CHI Health St. Elizabeth has opened a trauma center, actively caring for trauma patients, coordinating with local EMS systems and tracking data in an effort to become a state-verified Level III Trauma Center by next spring.
The process started in February, with Trauma Program Coordinator Jodi DeWitt meeting with first responders and paramedics to share CHI Health St. Elizabeth’s ability to care for trauma patients. Trauma patients include those involved in serious car crashes, assaults, falls, etc. Through work with EMS, the hospital is starting to see an increase in trauma patients brought to CHI Health St. Elizabeth. One of those recent patients is 18-year-old Kaleb Kempkes of Bennett.
In May, Kempkes was trying to herd a bull into a pin on his grandparent’s farm when the animal suddenly began head-butting him in the chest. Kempkes was able to get away by sliding under a fence panel. With fear Kempkes may have internal heart injuries, his mom rushed him to CHI Health St. Elizabeth where Dr. Rick Fermelia, trauma center medical director, was part of his care team. Kempkes stayed overnight at CHI Health Pediatric Place at St. Elizabeth. Dr. Fermelia determined Kempkes broke his sternum, but escaped any other serious injuries. The recent high school graduate and future college basketball player can’t run or lift weights for some time, but he’s thankful to be on the mend.
Caring for patients like Kempkes, educating staff, increasing trauma patient population and collecting data is part of the 9-12 month process of becoming a Level III verified trauma center, which comes from the Nebraska Statewide Trauma System of Care. A Level III Trauma Center includes general surgery, anesthesia, orthopedic, neurosurgery capabilities and more.