The New Mexico Department of Health EMS Bureau has certified UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center as a Level III trauma center.

UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center is accepting patients with lower-level trauma in its emergency department. Observer file photo.

SRMC is equipped to handle the needs of lower-level trauma patients whose injuries can be treated by a general surgeon or an orthopedic surgeon. Patients with traumatic brain injury and other acute conditions would be transported to the Level I trauma center at University of New Mexico Hospital.

“This designation follows a painstaking process in which we assembled documentation, hired the surgeons and anesthesiologists needed to treat trauma patients and ensured that we could guarantee operating room capacity,” said Jamie Silva-Steele, SRMC’s president and CEO. “It will directly benefit trauma patients throughout the metro area, especially in Rio Rancho and Sandoval County.”

UNMH has the only Level I trauma center in New Mexico, meaning the hospital is capable of handling every aspect of injury and has 24-hour in-house coverage by general surgeons, with experts from a host of on-call subspecialists. A Level III trauma center can provide resuscitation, surgery, intensive care and stabilization of injured patients, as well as emergency operations.

“Our Level III designation means we will be able to significantly rebalance the load for the UNM Health System by seeing lower-level and a few of the higher-level traumas at SRMC,” said Silva-Steele.

As part of the certification process, SRMC was required to demonstrate its ability to treat trauma patients for a period of 12 months prior to site visit by the Department of Health, she said.

A mill levy that Sandoval County voters approved in 2018 helps fund the trauma care, as well as behavioral health care, from property taxes.