Seton Hays aims to keep trauma care close to home


Update, June 19, 2:55 p.m.: This story has been updated to reflect that St. David’s South Austin Medical Center was previously the closest provider of trauma care services to Hays County. 

Before March, when San Marcos Hays County EMS arrived at the scene of a severe car accident or other trauma situation, patients who had sustained life-threatening injuries or were facing life-threatening medical situations would be taken to Austin for treatment from a group of trauma doctors. The nearest hospital providing treatment for victims of trauma was St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, 901 W. Ben White Blvd., Austin.

That changed, however, when Seton Medical Center Hays, 6001 Kyle Parkway, Kyle, began offering advanced trauma care in early March.

David Smith, San Marcos Hays County EMS chief, said the roundtrip to and from Austin can tie up ambulances for an hour and a half or two hours. He said the availability of trauma care in Hays County will allow more efficient EMS operations.

“The more patients we can keep in Kyle, the faster we can have ambulances available for second and third calls during the day,” Smith said. “It lets us use our resources more efficiently.”

Neal Kelley, Seton Hays chief operating officer, said the hospital was a Level IV trauma center before the new trauma services began being offered in early March. In preparation for the new trauma level of trauma care, the hospital’s nurses have received advanced trauma certifications and education in advanced cardiac and pediatric life support systems.

Kelley said this training will allow the hospital to care for people within their community.

“That’s what we’re here for: to take care of people where they live and not have the inconvenience of them having to go downtown,” Kelley said.

Kelley said the hospital hired four trauma surgeons and is sharing an orthopedic trauma team with Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas in downtown Austin.

Oscar Rios, trauma director at Seton Hays, said Seton Hays’ nurses have received advanced trauma certifications.

Examples of afflictions that can now be treated at the hospital include fractured pelvises and broken ribs, Rios said. As long as a patient is able to move his or her arms and legs and has a heart rate above 90, they can be treated at Seton Hays, he said.

“If you’re stable, we can take care of you here,” Rios said. “It’s not just about having the right equipment. It’s about having the right doctors.”

In addition to the launch of advanced trauma care at the hospital, Seton Hays recently invested $500,000 into its emergency and operating rooms. The investment will improve the hospital’s ability to treat patients who have sustained trauma.

The hospital also purchased two state-of-the-art ambulances that will allow EMS crews in the field to communicate with the emergency room teams at the hospital.

“We want to send a message to the community that we are here for you,” Rios said. “We’re able and we are capable and we are safe, and we look forward to working with you in the future.”

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Brett Thorne reported on education, business, economic development and city government in San Marcos, Kyle and Buda from 2012 to 2017. Thorne attended Texas State University in San Marcos, where he graduated in 2010. He joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2012 and was promoted to editor in 2013.
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