UTMB Health Clear Lake upgrades with more trauma coverage from surgeons, specialists

When it's an emergency, having the right health care professionals at the ready can be the difference between life and death.

That’s why the emergency department at the UTMB Health Clear Lake Campus has begun the process of becoming a Level 2 trauma facility. 

Already, a trauma surgeon is on-site 24/7 with orthopedic and vascular surgeons on call 24/7, a schedule that went into effect Oct. 1.

It’s all part of long-term plan as the Level 3 facility works to obtain verification as a Level 2 trauma facility. The process takes about two years. The facility is now “Level 2 capable.” The “capable” label means the hospital has all the personnel, plans and other requirements in place to be a Level 2 trauma facility. 

But to become official, the American College of Surgeons must verify the requirements for the Clear Lake hospital.

Within a year, the hospital staff will do a consultative survey with the American College of Surgeons. Then the following year, the American College of Surgeons will visit for a final verification. That timeline would make UTMB Health Clear Lake officially a Level 2 facility by November 2024.

“As of Oct 1, 2022, the Clear Lake Campus can provide our community all the services that a Level 2 Trauma Center has to offer,” said Julie Matson, program director of Trauma Services for UTMB Health System.

When a trauma case comes to the Clear Lake emergency room, UTMB Health trauma surgeons will be able to respond immediately because of the 24/7 coverage.

“This means we are able to provide more services to further elevate the high level of quality trauma care we provide to the Bay Area,” said Ben Shapley, nursing program manager of Trauma Services at the UTMB Health Clear Lake Campus. “We are very proud of the hard work from everyone and would not be able to do this without such a great team who is committed to providing great care. We are excited to be able to expand this higher level of care to be able to help more people.”

“We’re going to be able to do more advanced orthopedic procedures because not only will we have advanced orthopedic surgeons on call 24/7, we will also have vascular surgery on call 24/7 to assist with these highly complex procedures that often involve blood vessels,” Matson said.

Texas has a total of 26 Level 2 trauma facilities, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Of those 26, four are in the Houston area.

UTMB Health’s Galveston Campus is a Level 1 trauma facility, one of only 20 in Texas and four in the Houston region. UTMB Health has a Level 3 facility in League City and a Level 4 facility at its Angleton-Danbury Campus.

Northern Galveston County and southern Harris County now have more options for emergency trauma care.

“We’re very excited to be able to provide this service,” Matson said. “It’s a testament to the commitment of UTMB Health to continue to elevate the excellent care we provide to our community.”