New mission planned for Shock Trauma

National trauma, emergency training center envisioned by Pentagon

  • A computer rendering shows one of the new operating rooms in the University of Maryland Medical Center's planned new Shock Trauma/Critical Care Building. There will be 10 operating rooms, five new and five replacements, seven dedicated to Shock Trauma.
A computer rendering shows one of the new operating rooms in… (Image courtesy of Ballinger )
February 05, 2010|By Edward Gunts | ed.gunts@baltsun.com

The University of Maryland Medical Center has earned international recognition for its shock trauma center, which treats patients with severe injuries.

Now the medical center is becoming home to the National Trauma and Emergency Medicine Training Center, which will prepare military and civilian health care workers to deliver Shock Trauma's caliber of care.

The training center, the first in the country, will be part of a $160 million expansion that the medical center's leaders plan to build in downtown Baltimore starting this spring and open in 2013. That makes it one of the largest and most expensive projects planned for construction in Baltimore over the next several years.

Reps. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and Elijah E. Cummings are scheduled to join today with medical system leaders to announce that they have secured $2.4 million from the U.S. Department of Defense to help equip the addition.

The funds are coming from the Defense Department, they say, because the shock trauma center and the Air Force have a large training program for military doctors and nurses who rotate in and out of Shock Trauma every month, a program that improves the readiness of the nation's military medics. Shock Trauma also trains medical personnel to work around the globe, including the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. And it's where patients could be treated in the event of a natural disaster or other "mass casualty" event, including a terrorist attack.

"We don't realize in Maryland how lucky we are that we have the shock trauma center," Ruppersberger said Thursday. "It's one of the best in the world, and we want to help it continue to grow and develop."

The entire expansion will be "a major boost to Maryland's economy," he added. "It will provide 300 construction jobs and hundreds more permanent jobs once it opens."

The proposed trauma and emergency training center is "a completely new concept," said Mark Wasserman, senior vice president of external affairs for the University of Maryland Medical System. "There's nothing quite like it anywhere in the country."

The medical center applied last year for a certificate of need from the Maryland Health Care Commission to build a nine-level addition at the northeast corner of Lombard and Penn streets.

Ballinger of Philadelphia, a nationally recognized specialist in health care architecture, designed the building so it will be linked to 21-year-old Shock Trauma and the 7-year-old Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building, which contains the medical center's emergency department and critical-care beds. The design calls for 140,000 square feet of new space and about 35,000 square feet of renovated space.

"It is first and foremost an expansion of the shock trauma center, but it will also contain components that allow us to expand our emergency department and our critical care capacity," said Jeffrey Rivest, president and chief executive of the medical center.

The building will provide 64 new and replacement beds for critical-care patients and 10 operating rooms, five new and five replacements. Seven of the operating rooms will be dedicated to Shock Trauma. The expansion also will provide more space for the adult and children's emergency departments, a separate lobby and waiting area for Shock Trauma, a south-facing "healing garden" and a second rooftop helipad.

The $2.4 million Defense Department appropriation will be used to furnish the new operating rooms with advanced technology and equipment. It's the first installment in a multiyear, $13 million request that the medical center and the congressional representatives will be making from the Defense Department, Ruppersberger said.

The University of Maryland Medical Center is part of the 11-hospital, nonprofit University of Maryland Medical System. The proposed addition would be the first major expansion of Shock Trauma since it opened.

The training center is the brainchild of Thomas Scalea, physician-in-chief for Shock Trauma and professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Administrators project that demand for the medical center's trauma, emergency and critical care services will increase in the coming years, and they say some areas already have reached maximum patient capacity. Shock Trauma, for example, serves more than 7,000 patients a year in a building that was designed to accommodate 3,500 a year when it opened in 1989, according to Ruppersberger, who serves as vice chair of its board of visitors.

Construction will be funded by a combination of sources, including hospital operating funds, loans, donations, federal money and $50 million in state funds allocated over several years. The medical center plans to launch a capital campaign this year to raise $35 million to help pay for construction.

If the state health care commission approves the project this winter as requested, medical center officials say, they expect to break ground in May.


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