SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Sanford’s USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls is now the only Level 1 Trauma Center in the state.

It’s not a place you want to visit, but when you need it, a well-equipped trauma center can be essential to your survival.

“The expectation should be they receive the same level of care here that you could anywhere,” Dr. Paul Bjordahl, the Trauma Medical Director of Sanford Health’s USD Medical Center said. 

Dr. Bjordahl says that’s always been the case at the Sioux Falls hospital, but the new level 1 distinction is a verification that you can find the highest level of trauma care in South Dakota.

“Patients will not need to be transferred to higher level trauma centers to be cared for, but they haven’t for years because we put those resources in place,” Misty Brenden, Sanford’s Trauma Program Manager said.

Over the past decade of growth in Sioux Falls…

“If you measure by the number of patients we’ve been growing steadily 10 percent per year for years,” Bjordahl said.

…Sanford’s Trauma team has also grown to keep up with the influx in patients.

“To get a level 1 verification you have to meet 300 different strict criteria, ranging from physicians available, availability of clinical teams, performance improvement, quality efforts, attention to research, outreach and communication,” Bjordahl said.

As a level 1 trauma center, they not only have a trauma surgeon available at all times, but they also have a pediatric specialist available for any patient that comes in.

“We also have a team of resident physicians that help with that trauma care as well. What’s a little different with a level one trauma center is we commit to having a sick u provider, a surgical ICU, so we’re able to provide some of that more specialized care in the ICU once patients are admitted,” Brenden said.

Their elevated status also means Sanford’s Sioux Falls trauma team is ready to assist in even the gravest emergencies in our region.

“There are standards we need to have to make sure we’re drilling for mass causality events,” Brenden said. “As a level 1 trauma center we hold the place to be leaders in our trauma system of care.”

Sanford’s Sioux Falls Hospital has been working towards this verification for years; Level 1 is awarded by the American College of Surgeons and is the highest level of trauma care.