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Trauma Care

CHI Health's trauma program spans multiple locations and levels across Nebraska and southwest Iowa to provide comprehensive trauma care when every second counts.

Our team of nationally and internationally respected experts stands ready to take care of patients with traumatic injuries 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The CHI Health trauma program provides a full range of services including the only nationally certified Burn Center and in-network nationally certified Rehabilitation Center. 

CHI Health's trauma program includes the following levels and locations:

Level 1 Trauma

Level 2 Trauma

Level 3 Trauma

Level 4 Trauma

General Level Trauma and Burn Center

The trauma team at CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center - Bergan Mercy mobilizes for anything from a life-threatening fall or bad car accident, to a gunshot wound or stabbing.

Trauma is the leading cause of death in patients ages one to 44 in the United States. The injuries seen at CUMC - Bergan Mercy's Trauma Center are the most severe — often life-or-death — and require immediate and intensive attention, even more than the serious cases treated in the nearby emergency department. 

How does CUMC - Bergan Mercy's Level 1 Trauma Center differ from an Emergency Department?

The trauma center at CUMC - Bergan Mercy is verified as a Level 1 Trauma Center by the Committee on Trauma of the American College of Surgeons.

In Emergency Departments treat illnesses, such as asthma attacks, and injuries such as cuts or broken bones. Patients also are brought to the Emergency Department for more serious conditions such as heart attacks or stroke. These types of patients usually have one condition to be treated. 

A Trauma Center is a special unit of a hospital with advanced technologies designed to quickly respond to the needs of patients who have suffered critical or life-threatening physical injuries. Trauma can result from a motor vehicle accident, act of violence, fire or fall. It can happen anywhere; while playing sports, at a worksite, or even at home. Trauma patients typically have multiple, extensive injuries, and may have secondary complications, such as shock or respiratory failure.

In According to The American College of Surgeons' Advanced Trauma Life Support Program (ATLS), the doctor who first attends to the injured patient has the greatest opportunity to impact outcome. Creighton University Medical Center was the second hospital in the U.S. and is the only hospital in the region recognized by the Joint Commission for its management of orthopedic trauma.

Trauma surgeons are available at CUMC - Bergan Mercy's Trauma Center 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are specially trained to rapidly identify life threatening injuries and have the ability to take patients to the nearby operating suite within minutes. A trauma surgeon, orthopedic surgeon and neurosurgeon are on standby. The Trauma Team also includes trauma nurses and other highly trained specialists who can be mobilized immediately to report to the center. 

How it Works

Saving lives at the CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center - Bergan Mercy Trauma Center is a multidisciplinary effort with a team approach. 

EMS professionals assess the patient and begin stabilizing the patient's condition by immobilizing physical injuries, administering oxygen and medications, preventing shock, controlling bleeding and providing for the patient's emotional well-being. It is also their job to provide or arrange prompt transportation to the nearest appropriate health facility by the best possible means to enhance survival and prevent disability. 

The on call trauma team is alerted as the critically injured patient is on the way. The Trauma Center team communicates with EMS by radio so they know what care has been initiated and how the patient is responding to it. Because the team already has a description of the patient's injuries, they coordinate the medical specialists that are needed and summon them to the Trauma Bay while the rescue squad or helicopter is on its way to CUMC - Bergan Mercy. This coordination of specialized care saves lives.


The Trauma Team's primary goal is to identify and manage potentially life-threatening injuries within minutes. This process consists of several steps: resuscitation of vital functions, making a rapid primary survey of major physiological systems, and assessing and initiating definitive treatment for injuries. The initial assessment of a critically injured patient is a challenging task, which is made even more difficult because every minute can mean the difference between life and death. 

The trauma bays at CUMC - Bergan Mercy are equipped with advanced life support, monitoring, and imaging technologies, enabling the team to get the real-time information on the patient's condition. An x-ray suite is nearby, with portable x-ray capabilities, as well as a CAT scan room and other diagnostic equipment. As many as 10 team members may be simultaneously performing tasks, while providing information to one another. Chaplains always are available to provide emotional and spiritual support for family and other loved ones.

Intensive Care

In After surgery, many patients are transferred to the intensive care unit, where one nurse cares for no more than two patients at a time. The less critical patients who require monitoring are moved to the medical surgical trauma floor.


In many trauma patients, especially those who suffered falls or were injured in car accidents, need physical rehabilitation in the hospital, or more intensive inpatient or outpatient therapy. From the moment the severely injured patient is brought through the trauma bay doors at CUMC - Bergan Mercy to the days of rehabilitation and the months after, CHI Health offers comprehensive care for those who suffer trauma. The CHI Health Immanuel Rehabilitation Center is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. The inpatient program offers a full continuum of care from the beginning through the rehabilitation process, home, wellness services, lifelong follow up care and skilled or long-term care, as needed. Patient satisfaction ranks in the 99th percentile of the Health Stream database on four important questions about care. 

Trauma Surgery

Trauma surgery and surgical critical care is a special branch of surgery for the care of patients with acute, life-threatening or potentially life-threatening surgical conditions. Specialists in surgical critical care possess advanced knowledge and skills that enable them to provide comprehensive care to critically ill patients from all surgical specialties and in all age groups. Trauma and critical care surgeons at CHI Health are certified by the American Board of Surgery in critical care surgery and have received fellowship training in trauma surgery. Trauma surgeons are available 24/7 at CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center - Bergan Mercy's Level I Trauma Center. They are specially trained to rapidly identify life-threatening injuries and have the ability to take patients to the operating room within minutes.

Orthopedic Trauma Surgery

Orthopedic trauma is a subspecialty of orthopedic surgery that addresses complicated or multiple injuries to the bones, joints, and soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments) of the entire body following trauma. Orthopedic trauma surgeons must quickly assess the patient's injuries and prioritize the order for treating them, while anticipating and preventing complications. 

Rib Plating

Rib fractures are the most common type of chest injury. They account for 10 to 15 percent of traumatic injuries and 20% of all trauma deaths. Thoracic trauma has a high rate of complications for patients, due to associated injuries, including pulmonary contusions, pneumothorax (collapsed lung), hemothorax, and pleural effusions (excess fluid pools around the lung). Rib fractures can be very painful and even worse; their complications can be life-threatening. 

The Chest Wall Reconstruction Center at CUMC - Bergan Mercy was the first facility in the region to offer rib plating, an advanced procedure specifically for repairing rib fractures. This procedure enables rib fractures to heal more quickly, thus minimizing pain and complications from allowing such fractures to heal on their own.


Neurosurgery specialists provide comprehensive treatment of injuries associated with the brain, spine and spinal cord. 1.5 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury and 11,000 persons are hospitalized for spinal cord injury each year. Most injuries are caused motor vehicle accidents, falls, violence and sports. These types of injuries are complicated and can be devastating, but survivability has increased in recent years due to improved pre-hospital and specialized trauma care.

Maxillofacial Surgery

Facial trauma, also called maxillofacial trauma, is any physical trauma to the face, including fractures of the upper and lower jaws, the bones surrounding the eyes, and facial lacerations. The maxillofacial surgeon's knowledge of the facial structures is critical, even life-saving, when repairing complex facial fractures. CHI Health has a plastic and maxillofacial surgeon available for trauma cases.

Burn Care

A burn is an injury caused by thermal, chemical, electrical, or radiation energy. The initial burn trauma care provided can have a major impact on long-term outcome. The Trauma Team performs a rapid assessment and develops a priority-based plan of care determined by the type, extent and degree of burns. The CUMC - Bergan Mercy trauma team works closely with the St. Elizabeth Regional Burn and Wound Center. The St. Elizabeth Burn Center, was the region's first dedicated burn unit. It is the only burn center in Nebraska verified through the American Burn Association and the American College of Surgeons. The St. Elizabeth Regional Burn and Wound Center is internationally recognized for outstanding research and for providing the latest treatments and procedures for serious burns or for wounds that will not heal.

Vascular Trauma Care

Peripheral vascular trauma occurs when there are injuries to blood vessels outside the heart. This type of trauma may result from penetrating injuries (stab, glass, gunshot), or blunt force injuries (fall or impact with a steering wheel in a motor vehicle accident.). Injuries to major arteries, veins, and nerves need to be identified and treated rapidly to prevent loss of life and limb. In addition to our staff of trauma surgeons, CUMC - Bergan Mercy's Trauma Center has two Cardiovascular and Thoracic surgical specialists who treat injuries to the peripheral vascular system and chest.

Trauma Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation is begun while the patients are in the hospital to help them regain the maximum level of function as quickly as possible. Rehabilitation therapy specialists assess motor functions and the ability to perform daily activities. Rehabilitation is continued at Immanuel Rehabilitation Center, a state-of-the-art inpatient facility, which has received the highest level of accreditation awarded by the Joint Commission, an accrediting body for hospitals and healthcare organizations, and by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Immanuel Rehabilitation Center provides full range of inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services, including: brain and spinal cord injury rehabilitation, amputation and major orthopedic trauma and physical, occupational and speech therapy, if needed. These services are led by a team of physiatrists, physicians who specialize in physical rehabilitation. After inpatient care, CHI Health at Home provides complete home care services after the patient is released from Immanuel Rehabilitation Center.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that injuries kill more than 180,000 people each year. More people between the ages of 1-44 die from injury, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, or homicides, than from any other cause, including cancer.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in the first 30 years of a person's life. Below are some CHI Health and community resources to prevent auto accidents and injuries caused by them.

"A Matter of Seconds" Prevention Program

The CHI Health Immanuel Rehabilitation Center is proud to offer a community-based head and spinal cord injury prevention program. This program is designed to educate students on the causes and consequences of spinal cord and head injuries and prevention of these injuries.

The program provides focus on wearing seat belts/ helmets, avoiding drugs and alcohol as well as choosing the right group of friends. The program, approximately an hour in length, consists of a healthcare professional briefly discussing these injuries, a 15 minute video and speakers who have actually suffered an injury. The speakers discuss their personal experiences of how their injury occurred, the consequences on their injury and how it has changed their life. For more information or to schedule a program, call or email Jena Munson at (402) 572-2276 or email [email protected].

Car Seat Safety Checks

94% percent of both Nebraskans and Iowans use child safety seats, but nearly 85% in Nebraska (90% in Iowa) of those seats are installed incorrectly. CHI Health participates in a community program to ensure child safety seats are installed correctly. 

Papillion LaVista Schools - Car Crash Prevention

Papillion LaVista Schools produced an educational video to demonstrate how frightening and chaotic a crash scene can be by staging a mock crash scene. Emergency personnel including fire trucks, rescue squads and life flight responded to the mock crash as if it were a real crash scene. At the conclusion of the mock crash, students assembled in the gym for a program and heard from speakers who talked about the dangers of drinking and/or texting while driving. They watched a powerful video on texting and driving. View the Papillion LaVista Video

Preventing Falls

Falls are the number one reason for trauma admissions. They don't spare the young or the old. On playgrounds, more injuries happen on monkey bars than any other equipment. 20 to 30 percent of people 65 and over who fall suffer lacerations, hip fractures or head trauma.