Emergency department entrance at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Northwell Health Peconic Bay Medical Center has received a level III trauma center verification from the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, the Riverhead hospital announced yesterday. The verification makes Peconic Bay Medical Center the only ACS-verified trauma center on the North Fork.

Peconic Bay Medical Center, granted provisional status as a designated level III trauma center by the State Department of Health in February 2017, has already provided emergency medical services to over 1,000 Eastern Long Island residents, the hospital said.

The verification is “a testament to the quick response of our medical team and the result of our ongoing commitment to providing our patients with the world-class medical excellence they deserve,” PBMC executive director Dr. Amy Loeb said.

There are two processes for trauma center identification: a designation process and a verification process. Designation is a process developed by state or local regulatory agencies. In New York State, designation is granted by the State Department of Health. Designation criteria may vary from state to state.

Verification is an evaluation process done by the American College of Surgeons to evaluate and improve trauma care. The ACS does not designate trauma centers; instead, it verifies the presence of certain resources needed for optimal care of an injured patient. The verification process takes place over a three-year period, the ACS said.

To meet the standards to become a verified trauma center, hospitals must show their ability to address the trauma needs of all injured patients.

There are five levels of trauma center verification. The different levels (Level I, II, III, IV or V) refer to the kinds of resources available in a trauma center and the number of patients admitted yearly, according to the ACS. They define national standards for trauma care in hospitals, the organization said.

Level I, the highest designation, is a comprehensive regional resource that is a tertiary care facility central to the trauma system. A level I trauma center is capable of providing total care for every aspect of injury – from prevention through rehabilitation, according to standards of the American Trauma Society. Stony Brook University Hospital is the only level I trauma center in Suffolk County.

A level II trauma center is able to initiate definitive care for all injured patients, with 24-hour immediate coverage by general surgeons, as well as coverage by the specialties of orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology and critical care. Tertiary-level care needs such as cardiac surgery, hemodialysis and microvascular surgery may be referred to a level I trauma center. Northwell Heath Southside Hospital in Bay Shore and Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip are the only two ACS-verified Level II trauma centers, according to the ACS website.

A level III trauma center has demonstrated an ability to provide prompt assessment, resuscitation, surgery, intensive care and stabilization of injured patients and emergency operations. PBMC joins L.I. Community Hospital in East Patchogue and Northwell Health Huntington Hospital on Suffolk’s list of ACS-verified level III trauma centers.

A level IV trauma center has demonstrated an ability to provide advanced trauma life support prior to transfer of patients to a higher level trauma center. It provides evaluation, stabilization, and diagnostic capabilities for injured patients.

A level V trauma center provides initial evaluation, stabilization and diagnostic capabilities and prepares patients for transfer to higher levels of care.

N.Y. State Health Department-designated trauma centers in Suffolk County (according to the State DOH website) are:

  • Stony Brook (level I, adult and pediatric)
  • Good Samaritan (level II, adult and pediatric)
  • Southside (level II, adult only)
  • L.I. Community Hospital (level III, adult only)
  • Northwell Health Huntington Hospital (level III, adult only)
  • Southampton Hospital (Level III, adult only)
  • Peconic Bay Medical Center (provisional level III, adult only)

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.