University Hospital has received verification from the American College of Surgeons that it can now operate as a Level I pediatric trauma center. The San Antonio facility, which anchors University Health System’s South Texas Medical Center campus, will now be one of only five hospitals in Texas with such a designation — and the first in South Texas.
It’s a critical milestone years in the making that local leaders believe will further advance San Antonio’s effort to become a major hub for world-class pediatric care.
I reported in March that UHS was pursuing the designation. UHS President and CEO George Hernandez Jr. told me then that, if UHS was successful, this would be a game changer for the Bexar County taxpayer supported health system and for San Antonio.
“We are going to create the same level of care for pediatrics that we developed for adults, and that’s a huge commitment on our part,” Hernandez said.
The designation will allow UHS to be a bigger player in pediatric research and preventative care.
“This is transformational,” Hernandez said.
The criteria for a Level I pediatric trauma center goes beyond Level II in a few key areas. It must have immediate, around-the-clock access to an even larger group of physician specialists, including orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, internal medicine, plastic surgery, oral and maxillofacial, pediatric and critical care.
UHS has already been a significant provider of care for seriously injured children in the region. Since 2010, the number of such pediatric patients who have passed through the hospital’s doors has increased nearly 80 percent.
But with the Level I designation, Hernandez said UHS will join an elite group of hospitals dedicated to pediatric trauma.