Whistler knows trauma — and that has helped the Whistler Health Care Centre attain a Regional Trauma Program Distinction in Trauma Services by Accreditation Canada.
The recognition has been granted to Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and is Canada's first distinction award. Trauma centres recognized within VCH include the Whistler Health Care Centre, Pemberton Health Care Centre and Squamish General Hospital.
Through the Trauma Distinction program, Accreditation Canada evaluates trauma centres, which must meet specific and detailed criteria.
"They look at our whole system as well as our sites, they want to ensure that a trauma patient has an appropriate path within the system," said Dr. Hazel Park, emergency physician and trauma leader at Lions Gate Hospital, and the medical director for the Regional Trauma Program.
Park said the evaluation at the Whistler Health Care Centre, Squamish General Hospital, Pemberton Health Care Centre — and a handful of other hospitals, including VGH and BC Children's Hospital — involved a four-day visit, hundreds of pages of documentation and data collection to meet quality standards for the accreditation.
"We started our preparation a year ago given all the documents of what the expectations are, we had surveys to all of our sites, and a sort of pre-assessment to determine gaps, and then we worked on those gaps," said Park. "If you don't meet those criteria and thresholds, you will not meet that distinction."
All the sites and programs acquired the distinction.
"I think what we're really most proud of — and this came across to the surveyors — is the commitment and dedication and passion for our trauma patients, and I think the key is our team who provide the care," said Park. Of particular note was that the Whistler Health Care Centre is a paragon of trauma care.
"I have to say the Whistler Health Care Centre is remarkable, from the pre-hospital team to the nursing — they do an amazing job in doing the initial assessment and management and stabilization and then organizing the transfer out," said Park. "Whistler sees a significant number — they have the highest number of patients that would transfer out to a higher level of care, in terms of trauma transfers."
Park said Whistler staff has developed expertise because of the volume of trauma cases.
"And because it's such a desirable place to live, I think they're able to pick and choose the best caregivers. They're a very strong team, for a centre that's not a full hospital," said Park.
Whistler's approach, to continuously educate and practise simulations, is the blueprint for other teams, which can learn from what's been fine-tuned in the resort, she said.
Park said overall the most common trauma cases across VCH are falls — typically low-height falls in the elderly, but higher falls in the younger demographic, such as those from scaffolding or balconies, followed by motor-vehicle crashes. In Whistler, the majority of trauma is from skiing and mountain-biking accidents.
Accreditation Canada is continuing the evaluations of other B.C. health authorities.