Avera Medical Minute: Aberdeen man says trauma center saved his life

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Taylor Sumption always knew help was close to home if he had a medical emergency, but, he admits he didn't fully understand the level of care available until he was involved in a life-altering crash on the way home from work.

Taylor Sumption at Avera St Lukes trauma center

"I just remember the moments right before it. A big flash and not really sure what had happened," said Sumption.

Within seconds, Taylor was fighting for his life. "I had a closed head injury, with a couple of brain bleeds, a pretty severe chest injury, broken ribs, bruised lungs, and then some spinal injuries," said Sumption.

Some may call it a blessing, others may say he was at the right place at the right time. Taylor says having a level-three trauma team waiting for him to arrive at Avera St. Luke's was exactly what he needed. "A facility like this and the value of it in this rural of an area," said Sumption. It's the difference between life and death in my case."

There is a difference between an ER, and a level three trauma center, Avera Trauma Program Coordinator Milissa Padoll explains their commitment. "When a patient comes into the ER, they come in as either a trauma activation, which is our highest level, that's kind of all the bells and whistles, everybody comes running, or a trauma eval. I follow them through the course of stay," said Padoll.

It's a new standard of care in a rural area according to Dr. Chris Larson.
"We live in a bubble, up here in northeast, north-central South Dakota, with the only other real centers hundreds of miles away," said Dr. Larson. "There is 24/7 365 trauma surgeon coverage, so we're here and available every day, all day, all year."

The ongoing standards are monitored by the college of surgeons with an inspection every three years to maintain high standards.

A level three trauma center means patients can often be cared for right in Aberdeen, saving the expense of a medical transfer, and allowing friends and family to visit their loved one during the crisis.

"It's so comforting to know that we can treat that patient, in their own backyard, not having to fly them to Sioux Falls," said Padoll.

Avera St. Luke's in Aberdeen is unique in the fact that they accept patients from smaller facilities, and should more specialized treatment be needed, a Careflight helicopter can airlift a patient to a larger hospital.