New Hanover Regional Medical Center has recently been named one of the most prepared trauma centers for handling large-scale disasters in the country.
A report issued this summer by the National Foundation for Trauma Care named NHRMC one of five trauma centers nationwide to earn designation as "highly prepared."
"They asked all the trauma centers, more than 540, to fill out lengthy surveys to see how prepared as a trauma center we are for disasters," said Sue Ballato, NHRMC's director of Trauma Services.
Much of the survey centered on preparedness for blast injuries, stemming from recent bombings in different parts of Europe, she said.
"They figure if you're prepared for that kind of disaster, you'd be prepared for any kind of disaster because your basic preparedness is the same."
Trauma centers were evaluated on communication, emergency management planning, resources, vulnerability and security, clinical resources and sustainability. The five top-scoring hospitals were further evaluated through site visits to assess their decontamination capacity, stockpiled resources, clinical care and overall plan for responding to a large-scale catastrophic event.
Those top-scoring hospitals will be awarded $7,000 for participating in the study and will undergo a site visit to validate the information and to see how federal grant funding was used to ramp up equipment and supplies for possible disasters.
A team made up of different departments within the medical center had been formed to analyze potential disasters that could occur in Southeastern North Carolina and to ensure "we covered the broad spectrum and made our purchases based on the critical benchmarks in our deficiencies," Ballato said.
Purchases from federal grant money included upgraded communication and decontamination equipment, she said.
Regionally, the South got the least amount of money for disaster preparedness, yet its trauma centers scored the highest of the regions surveyed.
According to the National Foundation for Trauma Care, survey results revealed that a strong correlation was found where hospitals that had endured an actual event of mass scale had higher preparedness scores on average.
New Hanover Regional's score backed up that finding as well.
"I knew we were prepared because of the hurricanes," Ballato said, "but I thought we had a lot to learn and could learn from other trauma centers. That was one of the reasons we scored so high, because of our preparedness with hurricanes and that we work together as a team. That also increased our scores."