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UC Medical Center Celebrates 25 Years as a Level I Trauma Center

Dec. 7, 2022

CINCINNATI - Nationally-recognized Trauma team provides specialized care 24/7.


When someone’s life is at stake from a fall, motor vehicle crash or other traumatic injury, the experts at UC Medical Center are available 24/7 to provide the highest level of trauma care in Greater Cincinnati.

UC Medical Center is celebrating 25 years as Greater Cincinnati’s only verified Level I trauma center for adults. The designation is provided by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma through a rigorous verification process, and it is a recognition of the outstanding medical and surgical care that UC Health provides to critical patients. UC Medical Center was first verified as a Level I trauma center in 1997. 

“We are proud to provide the highest level of specialized adult trauma care to our community,” Amy Makley, MD, trauma director at UC Medical Center and associate professor of surgery at the UC College of Medicine said. “Regardless of the injury or health condition, patients will receive the best possible care at UC Medical Center. Our experts stand ready to provide advanced trauma care 24/7, 365 days a year.” 

With 16 trauma surgeons and 12 advanced practice providers, the UC Health trauma team is one of the largest in the nation. Nearly 5,000 patients receive care for traumatic injuries at UC Medical Center each year, and the hospital ranks in the top decile in the U.S. for patient outcomes. An additional 1,200 patients receive care for traumatic injuries at West Chester Hospital, which has been a verified Level III trauma center since 2014.

The UC Health Trauma program is also a national leader in clinical and scientific research related to traumatic injuries, with millions of dollars in ongoing research funded by agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Defense.

Trauma is the leading cause of death for people under the age of 45, and in the U.S., injury accounts for more than 150,000 deaths and more than 3 million non-fatal injuries each year.

“To be a Level I trauma center means to provide the full spectrum of trauma care for the patient,” Tim Pritts, MD, professor of surgery at the UC College of Medicine and chief of the section of general surgery at UC Health said. “Our trauma team is always ready with operating rooms and intensive care beds immediately available, as well as specialists who provide the highest possible level of care in trauma and numerous subspecialties, such as neurosurgery, orthopaedics and burn treatments. Through clinical and scientific research, we also work to advance our knowledge about traumatic injuries and develop the next generation of treatment strategies.” 

The highest level of trauma activation is a Trauma STAT. Upon arrival, critically injured Trauma STAT patients are met by the fully assembled trauma team, including physicians from emergency medicine and trauma surgery, specially trained shock resuscitation nurses, respiratory therapists and physicians and nurses from the operating room and surgical intensive care unit. 

Immediate consultation is available from a full spectrum of experts including neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, critical care intensivists, spine surgeons, facial trauma specialists and anesthesiologists. The resuscitation and care of trauma patients is led by UC Health trauma surgeons. 

UC Health also partners with the U.S. Air Force to host the Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills(C-STARS) program, which provides training for military medical personnel in the areas of trauma and critical care. 

As the third program of its kind in the nation, C-STARS was created to enable Air Force healthcare providers to refresh their skills by working side-by-side with their civilian colleagues treating trauma and critical care patients. UC Medical Center was selected because of its national reputation as a teaching hospital and the high volume of trauma and critical care patients treated each year.

In 2019, the UC Medical Center trauma and emergency medicine teams received the first-ever “Heroes in Action Award” from the Cincinnati Business Courier for their service to the community during the Fountain Square shooting in September 2018.

In 2021, UC Health launched Greater Cincinnati’s first Trauma Survivors Network to help victims of trauma and their families through the emotional recovery process.

The trauma specialists at UC Health also study how injuries happen and find ways to prevent them. The science-based approach includes prevention and outreach programs such as Stop the Bleed classes, where UC Health experts help train community members in bleeding cessation techniques to help save lives before a patient reaches the hospital, as well as extensive basic, translational and clinical research into treatments for traumatic injuries.

UC Health’s trauma experts also provide on-call consultation to providers at community hospitals throughout Greater Cincinnati. 

UC Medical Center and West Chester Hospital voluntarily seek trauma re-verification from the American College of Surgeons every three years as part of UC Health’s commitment to ensuring that all patients receive the most advanced specialty care for complex injuries and illnesses. The rigorous re-verification process includes achievement by the trauma center of over 300 essential criteria and an onsite visit by a team of experienced trauma center reviewers. The hospitals were last re-verified in 2021.