By Louie St. George III
Essentia Health-Northern Pines in Aurora recently was recertified as a Level 4 Trauma Hospital by the Minnesota Department of Health.
The designation process included an external review of the hospital’s resources and capabilities to care for trauma patients. Essentia Health-Northern Pines met standards of commitment, clinical and equipment resources, and staff training.
The time between sustaining a severe injury and receiving care is the most important predictor of survival — the chance of survival decreases as the delay increases. Thus, a trauma center can help to mitigate that risk by providing immediate treatment.
“This reinforces the fact that we provide high-quality, cost-effective care to the residents of our community,” said Laura Ackman, administrator at the Aurora hospital.
Another way that patients benefit from expert care at Essentia Health-Northern Pines is through telehealth connections with providers throughout the Essentia system. Telehealth, conducted via secure interactive videoconferencing, allows patients to receive care from a specialist who is not available in their home communities, and does so in a cost-efficient manner. In the case of an emergency, diagnosis can occur without extensive travel, thereby saving critical time.
A wide range of services are available through telehealth, such as heart care, psychiatry and stroke care. At Essentia, that also includes tele-emergency services, meaning patients systemwide have easy access to the region’s only Level I adult trauma center at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth.
“Telehealth overcomes the challenges of providing expert specialty services in rural Northeastern Minnesota,” said Laurie Hall, director of telehealth at Essentia. “And we know access to these services improves patient outcomes.”
Hall emphasized the significance of telehealth offerings to patients in rural areas, whom otherwise wouldn’t have immediate access to certain kinds of care. Benefits include reduced travel time and costs, convenience and better health outcomes, among others.
“It’s about equitable access to specialty services, whether you’re part of Essentia or not,” she said. “You need to have equal access. Many of these patients will not, or cannot, drive to Duluth or to Virginia.”