Tracking & Treating Trauma


Jennifer Wobig, trauma services program manager, and Dr. Stephen Kaminski, director of trauma services and the surgical intensive care unit, talk about their first weeks with the trauma team at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.


Jennifer makes time in her schedule for an interview about the trauma program, as pictures of her newborn flash on her computer screensaver. Dr. Kaminski joins the meeting directly from his after- noon working in the County Public Health Department's clinics, where he oversees education of Cottage's surgical residents (it's a long-established affiliation and a tradition he is proud to continue).


These are two hard-working, busy people. And their passion for trauma care is clear.


Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital's Trauma Center is a care hub for the Central Coast. Jennifer's role is to coordinate all aspects of care necessary for trauma patients -- with the ultimate goal of returning them to their pre-injury state.

Jennifer Wobig and Dr. Stephen Kaminski stand on the site of the new SBCH helipad, scheduled to open in February 2012. The addition of a helipad to the new hospital will eliminate the need for ground transport from other landing locations, getting trauma patients more quickly to the care they need.


When a trauma activation occurs, an entire interdisciplinary team responds to the call. This might happen five to ten times each day, and Jennifer tracks the progress of these most severely injured patients as they work toward recovery.


"Trauma touches every department in the hospital," observes Jennifer. "We want people to know who we are and understand the level of care offered here. There are lots of good things about the hospital. We're just one of them."


What sets Cottage apart? "I can tell that Cottage is really dedicated to the community. There's a commitment of physicians and administration to trauma services, and it's a program that takes a lot of financial support and can sometimes drain hospitals," observes Jennifer.


SBCH Trauma Team Recognized For Excellence


During a recent American College of Surgeons (ACS) survey for verification of its Level II Trauma Center, the SBCH Trauma Program was given a preliminary re-certification by the ACS site surveyors, with zero deficiencies.



Dr. Kaminski agrees. "This is a public resource gem," he says. "Here's this pristine resource in our own backyard, ready when you get injured. And it requires support from within the hospital and within our community in order to continue to excel."


Trauma centers are unique -- set apart from emergency departments -- by the requirements to have specialists on call. This improves care for all patients, not only the hospital's trauma patients, because all patients have access to these specialists. It elevates care throughout the system.


Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital's trauma center does just that, with more than 100 physician specialists. It is a referral center for a wide swath of the Central Coast and is complementary to other primary care hospitals in the region, improving patient outcomes.


The national Trauma Quality Improvement Project (TQIP) tracks outcomes of more than 100 trauma centers nationwide, and SBCH consistently ranks among the best, outperforming some of the major metropolitan teaching centers.


He adds, "When a person gets a traumatic injury they don, t have time to shop around for hospitals. Often they get what's closest. So here we are fortunate. Patients will not only get a designated Trauma Center. They'll get an outstanding Trauma Center."


Transfers from Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital and Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital are seamless and instantaneous, largely due to what Dr. Kaminski observes is a closely knit medical staff among the hospitals. "It helps that we all participate in the same professional education opportunities. We know each other by name... that improves communication and collegiality."


"That's who we are," says Dr. Kaminski. "This is a smaller com- munity but the specialists we recruit are top-of-the-line, better than in many larger cities. We don?t need to send anyone away. We can treat all types of injuries right here."


Cottage continues to focus on building and strengthening Trauma Services, adding a helipad atop the new hospital opening in early 2012.

By Colette Briere | Photo By Glenn Dubock    


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