St. Elizabeth Trauma Center Improves Access to Care for Lincoln and Beyond

Since starting the program in spring 2020, CHI Health St. Elizabeth’s General Level Trauma Center has continued to grow and expand its reach for patients in Lincoln and surrounding communities. From April 2020 to August 2021, the hospital treated more than 2,400 patients who suffered from a traumatic injury — which is a nearly 50 percent increase from the previous year.

“CHI Health St. Elizabeth’s General Level Trauma Center has added another important layer of care to the Capital City,” said Rick Fermelia, MD, FACS, Trauma Program Medical Director. “Having a trauma center on the East side of Lincoln provides quicker and increased access for those on this side of the city and outside town, as well. It’s also another option for patients.”

CHI Health St. Elizabeth earned its General Level Trauma Center designation through the State of Nebraska in April 2021. The process included caring for trauma patients, educating staff, coordinating with local EMS and tracking patient data. With this designation, CHI Health St. Elizabeth is equipped to care for patients who are involved in traumatic injuries, including serious car crashes, assaults, falls and sports injuries. According to Trauma Program Coordinator, Jodi DeWitt, RN, MSN, out of all the patients who come to St. Elizabeth by ambulance, 25 percent of them have experienced a traumatic injury.

“A large portion of the traumatic injuries we see are orthopedic in nature, like fractures and joint injuries to the hips, shoulders, elbows, knees, legs, ankles and the spine,” DeWitt said. “We also admit many patients with head injuries. These types of injuries are often due to falls and balance issues among individuals - and occur much more often than we think. Part of our trauma center’s dedication to our community is education. Our greatest hope is that we can prevent someone from becoming a trauma patient in the future.” 

CHI Health offers free balance assessments at various clinic locations with physical therapy care. St. Elizabeth also collaborates with Safe Kids Nebraska, Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska and EMS companies on continued outreach and education. The hospital hopes to continue building its trauma program.

“CHI Health has been a part of the Lincoln landscape for more than 130 years. We are proud to continue growing alongside our community with the addition of our trauma program,” Dr. Fermelia said. “The nurses, physicians, medical staff and hospital administration have all put their heart and souls into seeing this program succeed and grow. Our mission will always be providing our patients with great care. We’re committed to continue reaching people through education and caring for them when they need us most.”

Jodi DeWitt and Dr. Fermelia outside of St. Elizabeth ED

Trauma Program Coordinator, Jodi DeWitt, RN, MSN and Rick Fermelia, MD, FACS, Trauma Program Medical Director