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Trauma Surgery – Patient Care and Treatment

Trauma Surgery – Patient Care and Treatment

The goal of the Division of Trauma, Acute Care, and Critical Care Surgery at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is to meet patients’ needs for the best care in these areas of expertise - 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Contact us

Call the CareLine to be directed to the area you need within Trauma, Acute Care, and Critical Care Surgery


Areas of expertise

If you or a loved one are in an accident or need emergency surgery, come to Hershey Medical Center, where we provide state-of-the-art services in trauma, acute care, and critical care surgery.

LifeLion EMS

Transportation to Hershey Medical Center is facilitated by Life Lion EMS

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is the only Level I Trauma Center for both the adult and pediatric population in south Central Pennsylvania with approximately 2,700 admissions to the adult service annually. We are uniquely qualified to provide emergency diagnostic and treatment services for acutely ill and injured patients.

Learn more with these frequently asked questions about trauma and trauma centers.

What is trauma?

Trauma is defined as a bodily injury, wound or shock. Trauma affects more people than heart disease and cancer combined and is the leading cause of death among Americans under age 40.

However, death does not have to be the end result of a major trauma injury. Since the development of dedicated trauma centers, the number of deaths and long term disabilities has significantly decreased. 

What does it take to be designated as a trauma center?

It requires full-time trauma surgeons, emergency department physicians, and hundreds of dedicated physicians, nurses, specialists, and technicians to cover 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A trauma center designation also requires:

  • Designated operating room(s)
  • Designated trauma room(s)
  • Trauma coordinator and registrar
  • Trauma researchers
  • Multiple medical and surgical specialists
  • CT scan and invasive radiology
  • Designated intensive care units (ICUs)
  • Staff education
  • Quality improvement programs
  • Rehabilitation programs
  • Community outreach, education, and prevention programs

Hershey Medical Center is designated a Level I Trauma Center.

What are the different trauma designations?

There are four levels of trauma centers. Level I is the highest and level IV is the lowest.

What are the rates of trauma deaths in the country? 

Trauma kills more people between the ages of 1 and 44 than any other disease or illness. Nearly 180,000 people of all ages in the United States die from trauma every year, roughly one quarter of them from automobile accidents. Tragically, however, it is our children and young adults who feel the greatest impact of trauma. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, trauma (unintentional injuries and homicides) causes: 43 percent of all deaths from age 1 to 4, 48 percent of all deaths in ages 5 to 14, and 62 percent of all deaths in ages 15 to 24. 

What is the anticipated time of recovery from trauma?

With all injuries, especially ones suffered from a trauma-related incident, recovery time will vary. It is our goal that all patients get well enough to no longer need hospital care. Some patients will be discharged home with instructions to return for follow-up care. This is where the health team makes sure injuries are healing properly, as well as checking that the patient is adapting to life after the injury. Your nurses and doctors will discuss in detail about the amount of time you might need for recovery and physical therapy.

The acute care surgery practice meets the needs of those patients requiring emergency general surgery and provides surgery and follow-up to those patients as well as referral back to their home community physicians.

Examples of types of acute care surgery include gall bladder surgery, removal of the appendix, and emergency surgery to the blood vessels to restore circulation. Our team is composed of specially trained, acute care surgeons and other providers. A team member will provide care for you from the time of admission to the hospital, through your surgery to your discharge home.

Prior to your discharge, a team member will help arrange for your follow-up surgical care either here at Penn State Health or with your local provider.

Our goal is to get you back to your previous state of health in a safe and quick manner. That’s why we have a surgeon in the hospital and access to an operating room 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Should you require admission to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) after sustaining an injury or having major surgery, we have specially trained, critical care intensivists, fellows, and other providers to meet your needs around the clock.

Our 30-bed SICU is staffed with highly trained and dedicated health professionals to help you and your family get through this challenging time. Our care coordinators, social workers, and pastoral care staff will assist you in making this as easy as possible and help you prepare for your transition to the floor and then back to your home.

We provide physical therapy and occupational therapy onsite and can make referrals to outside rehabilitation facilities.

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