Gainesville hospital prepares to become level 1 trauma center

It’s a potential change that could impact healthcare across the Atlanta region.

The Northeast Georgia Medical Center is working to become the newest Level 1 trauma center, just months after an Atlanta hospital shut down, a spokesperson told Channel 2′s Bryan Mims.

In 2022, Georgia had five Level 1 centers, including two in the metro Atlanta.

But in November, Atlanta Medical Center closed, citing heavy financial losses.

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That left Grady Memorial Hospital as Atlanta’s only Level 1 trauma center.

The others in Georgia are located in Augusta, Macon and Savannah.

Beth Downs, a spokesperson for Northeast Georgia Medical Center, said the hospital has been preparing for the Level 1 verification for the last three years.

“We just knew it was the right thing for the community,” she said.

Currently, Northeast Georgia Medical Center is a “Level 2″ trauma center.


That means it can begin care for all injured patients, but may have to send the most severe cases to a Level 1 hospital – such as Grady in Atlanta. According to the American Trauma Society, a Level 1 hospital would be capable of providing total care for every aspect of injury, from prevention through rehabilitation.

“When you start thinking of having a trauma, it’s indiscriminate of your location,” said Gainesville Mayor Sam Couvillon, who thinks his city and region need a hospital that can handle the most critical emergencies.

“When we can expand our breadth of services, I think that’s just better for our community as a whole,” Couvillon said.

The American College of Surgeons recently performed a survey of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center to determine whether it has the staff and services to qualify as a Level 1.

It takes 12 to 16 weeks before the committee renders a decision, at which point it could approve the verification, deny it, or approve it with provisions.

The hospital already has a residency program and a growing research department.

“We’re known for having a top-notch heart center,” Couvillon said. “This just gives us more exposure in just being able to take care of our own.”

Channel 2 spoke with a couple of Gainesville residents who welcome a Level 1 trauma center.

“To know that we can have that level of care here, it’s good,” said Stephen Webb. “It’s a real good thing, but can they actually handle it? I don’t know.”

Alissa Collins said a Level 1 center would save lives, “This area is growing, and I think it’d be great not to have to go to Atlanta or somewhere like that.”

A decision on the Level 1 status is expected in the spring.

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