VBMC-Harlingen designated Level II Trauma Center

HARLINGEN — It was the vision of one doctor to bring the only Level II Trauma Center to the Valley, and it took the expertise of another doctor to establish it.

Yesterday, Valley Baptist Medical Center introduced to the community the first and only major Level II Trauma Center in the Rio Grande Valley.

“This has been a multi-year journey that started with Dr. Ruben Lopez, a cardiac and trauma surgeon who passed away in 2015, and from the beginning has been a team effort,” said Dr. Hillary Chollet, VBMC-Harlingen Trauma Medical Director.

There is only one other Level II trauma center south of San Antonio, and that’s located in Corpus Christi.

He said people suffering from knife wounds, gun shots, car crashes or falls will benefit from these medical services.

“Becoming a Level II Trauma Center is a high honor and high responsibility,” Chollet said. “Our goal is to save as many lives and help people get back to work and their lifestyle.”

He said the hospital is excited to now provide the highest level of trauma care in the RGV, and in the unfortunate event when patients require a higher level of care, they’ll be transported to San Antonio.

He said in the past many people have been transported to Level II Trauma Centers in San Antonio.

Now that will change.

“We look forward to leading the way in improving trauma care in South Texas,” stated Manny Vela, CEO of Valley Baptist Health System. “Becoming the Valley’s first Major Trauma Facility is part of our mission to provide services in South Texas that allow patients to remain near home for medical care.”

The trauma center at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen has been designated by the Texas Department of State Health Services as a Major (Level II) Trauma Facility.

This follows the center’s verification by the American College of Surgeons after a review and visit last October.

A Major Level II Trauma Center brings together a number of resources that benefit trauma patients, including in-house trauma/critical care surgeons available 24/7, and a full team of ICU specialists, orthopedics, neurosurgery, radiology, emergency medicine and others.

“A Level II Trauma Center is able to initiate definitive care for all injured patients,” added Ernie DeLeon, RN, Trauma Program Manager.