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Chesapeake Regional plans to launch trauma program

Chesapeake Regional Medical Center plans to apply for a Level 3 trauma designation, the latest service the hospital has added in recent years.
Photo by Mechelle Hankerson
Chesapeake Regional Medical Center plans to apply for a Level 3 trauma designation, the latest service the hospital has added in recent years.

Following the 2022 Walmart shooting, Chesapeake Regional Medical Center decided it was time to build a trauma program.

Chesapeake Regional Medical Center plans to apply to the state within the next four to six weeks to become a Level 3 trauma center.

It will support the hospital’s recent expansion of major procedures, like open heart surgery, and deal with unexpected events, like mass casualty events.

For Chesapeake Regional, officials realized they needed to be ready after a Walmart employee killed six people and himself during a 2022 shooting.

“The incident that occurred at Walmart … had a galvanizing impact,” said Chesapeake Regional CEO and President Reese Jackson.

“We were already moving in that direction but it was a rallying cry in some ways … it pushed us to say OK, ‘Let’s not fool around. Let’s get going.’”

Chesapeake Regional has to divert some patients with serious injuries, like gunshot wounds, to other hospitals including Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, which is a Level 1 trauma center and can provide the highest level of care.

Children with serious injuries are rerouted to Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk as well.

That’s not ideal for any patient in need of trauma services, Reese said.

Providers want to reach those kinds of patients in what they call the “golden hour,” when administering care is most likely to save the patient’s life.

Chesapeake is seeking Level 3 status, which requires them to have general surgeons on call at all times, which the hospital already has, Jackson said.

Level 3 centers don’t offer as much specialized care as higher-level centers and have less patient capacity.

Unlike new services, a trauma designation isn’t determined through the Certificate of Public Need process. Instead, hospitals apply for the designationand the state health department evaluates the facility based on set criteria.

There can be multiple hospitals with the same trauma designation in one area. Sentara Virginia Beach General is also a Level 3 trauma center, which is what Chesapeake Regional would become if approved.

A trauma program is just the latest of many new programs at Chesapeake Regional.

It’s making progress on a psychiatric emergency room, started its open heart surgery program earlier this year and will continue to expand its behavioral health department over the next two years.

Mechelle is News Director at WHRO. She helped launch the newsroom as a reporter in 2020. She's worked in newspapers and nonprofit news in her career. Mechelle lives in Virginia Beach, where she grew up.

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