MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A coal miner is crushed by collapsed mine shaft. A teenager is pinned underneath an ATV. A tractor-trailer collides with a family’s minivan on the interstate. In an instant, these terrifying events forever change the lives of the people who sustain them. And fortunately, for the people of West Virginia and the surrounding region, the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center at WVU Healthcare’s Ruby Memorial Hospital is available around the clock to care for the victims of these horrific accidents.Ruby-25-logo.jpg

Like the hospital that houses it, the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center was created in the late 1980s. It memorializes Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s 16-year-old grandson, who was killed in an automobile accident.

However, trauma services at WVU date back to the old University Hospital, Ruby’s predecessor. The first real test of the Medical Center’s ability to respond to a significant trauma event occurred in 1961 when a fire and explosion in a local mine sent five people to WVU with severe burns.

A dedicated trauma surgery service came several years later in 1980. The establishment of this service led to WVU Hospitals’ designation as the state’s first Level I trauma center in 1985. That same year, WVU began its trauma registry, which captures demographic and medical information on all trauma patients. While its original version is much different than it is now, it remains one of the largest and oldest such registries around and contains data on 49,298 patients.

Ramona Rodriguez, R.N., trauma program manager, was one of the trauma nurses working in the old University Hospital. In the early 1980s, almost all trauma patients came by ambulance, she said. Physicians and nurses often accompanied those patients who were critically injured.
One of the challenges of treating trauma patients in the old hospital was the proximity of the emergency department to other necessary services, Rodriguez said. The lab was on one floor, X-ray was on another.

Trauma care became much more streamlined with the opening of Ruby Memorial Hospital and the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center. The Emergency Department is now on the same floor and, in some cases, adjacent to those vital services, such as the catheterization lab, X-ray, laboratory services, blood bank and interventional radiology.

By the time Ruby and the Trauma Center opened, HealthNet had established its home in Morgantown. It took its first flight on June 15, 1986. At that time, there were only two air craft statewide; currently, there are a total of eight in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. Today, HealthNet transports approximately 500 trauma patients to the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center annually. Mortality rates have decreased with air transportation. Patients who at one time faced a six- to eight-hour ambulance ride are now able to make the trip in a fraction of the time.

Alison Wilson, M.D., director of the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center, said that in the years since the Trauma Center has opened, many more things have improved and streamlined the care trauma patients receive.

The Trauma Center’s Medical Command, often referred to as Med Com, is the radio center that serves as a regional coordination and communication center for all pre-hospital emergency care, including the HealthNet helicopter. Dr. Wilson said Med Com is incredibly important to coordination of care, as it is utilized to make sure the trauma team is standing by when a patient arrives.

Software developed at WVU by information technology and radiology staff has also improved trauma care, Wilson said. Image Grid is a web-based application that allows referring facilities to upload any diagnostic images for WVU physicians to see before the patient arrives. As a result, the patient’s radiation exposure is decreased and the surgery team can be in place so the patient can go straight to the operating room.

Participation in the American College of Surgeons Trauma Quality Improvement Program (TQIP) has allowed the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center to meet and exceed the requirements to be a Level I trauma center, Wilson said. WVU was one of 22 centers to participate in the national pilot study for the program.

One of those requirements is the ability to be a resource to other hospitals. Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center staff do that through the Rural Trauma Team Development Course, which was developed by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, which included two WVU faculty members among its original founders.

The purpose of the course is to educate rural healthcare providers on how to identify and stabilize injuries so patients can be transported to trauma centers.JMMTC-staff.jpg

These rural healthcare providers, emergency medical services personnel, nurses and support staff are all recognized for the vital roles each plays in caring for trauma patients at the Trauma Center’s annual Night of Recognition.

Now in its fourth year, the event highlights the success stories of three patients – two adult and one pediatric – and honors those who assisted in their care. This year’s Night of Recognition will be held on Thursday, Oct. 10 at the Morgantown Event Center.

“Trauma is one of those fields where it takes a variety of specialized healthcare providers each providing their expertise to bring patients from injury through recovery,” Wilson said. “By recognizing each step of their care, patients can see just how many people were responsible for saving their lives.”

WVU Healthcare’s flagship hospital, Ruby Memorial, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. It opened on July 19, 1988, after a generous donation from Morgantown philanthropist Hazel Ruby McQuain. The anniversary celebration will continue through the fall, marking a quarter century of care for tens of thousands of patients.

Photo captions:

(Top photo) Former Sen. Robert C. Byrd speaks to the crowd gathered for the dedication of the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center, which was named for his grandson, who died as the result of an automobile accident.

(Bottom photo) Trauma team members care for a patient. Pictured are (left to right) Dolores Harrison, clinical associate; Alison Wilson, M.D., director of the Trauma Center; Kristina Smouse, R.N., and Michelle Putnam, physician assistant.
For more information: Angela Jones-Knopf, News Service Coordinator, 304-293-7087
ajk: 09-12-13