Beau Cook wound up at the emergency department at the Medical Center, Navicent Health, about four years ago in an ambulance.
“I was in pretty rough shape,” he said Tuesday during a ceremony to recognize the hospital receiving verification in November as a Level I trauma center by the American College of Surgeons. “I showed up here with eight broken ribs on my left side, a broken shoulder bone, ... and a punctured lung.” Cook had taken a bad fall near Lake Oconee. “I could have gone to Athens or Augusta or I could come here. ... I chose Macon. I remember the extraordinary care I got.”
Since the accident, Cook said he has been hiking, snow skiing, water skiing and doing other physical activities.
“I think Macon is very lucky to have this facility,” he said.
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The Medical Center is the only Level I trauma center in the state, and the only one of 17 hospitals in the Southeast, to achieve this national recognition. Of 185 hospitals in Georgia, 30 are trauma centers, according to the hospital.
“This is indeed a very special occasion,” Gov. Nathan Deal said to about 100 people, mostly hospital personnel, gathered near the outside of the emergency center. “You are in a unique category and the people of this part of Georgia should be extremely proud of what you’ve done to achieve this certification.”
Deal said he thought he was going to see the trauma center in action as there was a wreck on Interstate 16 as he was coming into Macon from Atlanta.
“Health care is one of those great challenges,” he said. “It is a challenge at the federal level. It is also a challenge at the state level, and as we go through the delivery to new approaches to the delivery of health care which I know we’re going to be doing in the next couple of years in particular, there are going to be challenges that we all face. ... Your work will go a long way toward improving the quality of life for our entire state.”
Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert also praised the hospital for its work.
“We know that health care is one of those issues that must be addressed on a regional basis,” Reichert said. “When you are involved in a critical trauma event there is a limited window of time for your treatment to be effective and a Level I trauma center has the breadth of specialized services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.”
Navicent Health President and CEO Ninfa Saunders said the trauma center serves about 3,000 patients annually with about one-third of those patients being transferred from other health care facilities. Last year, the hospital’s trauma center cared for 91 of Georgia’s 159 counties, she said.
“The trauma center ... has become a beacon of hope for patients and families who are facing life-threatening crisis,” she said. “Our hope is that we will raise the bar for other trauma centers in the state to make sure we can provide the best of care and the most accessible care.”