Advocate Condell to celebrate 10 years as Level 1 trauma center
Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville on Tuesday will mark the 10-year anniversary of a significant milestone in the hospital's long history.
A decade ago on Oct. 1, Advocate Condell began operating as a Level 1 trauma center, the first and only such designation in Lake County. That means the hospital has the staff, equipment and facilities available 24 hours to deal with the most severe situations, from traffic accidents to gunshot wounds.
"Very simply, we have the experience, the capabilities and the capacity to handle all kinds of traumatic injuries," said Mike Ploszek, president of Advocate Condell Medical Center.
A Level 1 trauma center designation means the entire hospital and its operations function as a comprehensive, regional center providing a spectrum of services for a range of injuries, explained Linda Buch, trauma nurse coordinator/manager.
"We have neurosurgeons on staff and trauma surgeons who can take care of you right now," she said. "We have the resources here (to treat patients) from the beginning of their injury to the rehabilitation of their injury."
Trauma refers to an injury that is life-threatening or has a high risk of being life-threatening. Advocate Lutheran General in Park Ridge is the closest Level 1 trauma center to Condell.
More than 17,000 trauma patients have been seen at Advocate Condell over the last 10 years, but the numbers have been increasing because of "the nature of the world we live in today," with factors such as texting contributing to accidents, Ploszek said. Condell reported seeing 1,871 trauma patients in 2018.
The quest for a Level 1 trauma designation was set in motion before the merger between Condell -- which was established in 1930 -- and Advocate became official on Dec. 1, 2008.
And it required a substantial investment to the facility on a 76-acre campus at 801 S. Milwaukee Ave. That included about $109 million for an emergency department expansion and the construction of a 90-bed medical/surgical patient tower, including a heart/vascular center.
Fire Chief Rich Carani in 2006 supported Condell's request for state approval of projects relating to the Level 1 designation. He said at the time that transferring patients to a Level 1 trauma center was not an acceptable option because of long travel times and rush hour traffic delays.
"It has meant saved lives by getting Level 1 patients to a Level 1 facility faster. Overall it attracts better doctors and improves care at Condell," he said this week.
Advocate Condell plans to expand the intensive care unit to 32 from 17 beds and add general beds, Ploszek said. Construction could begin next summer and take two years.
"Superheroes Unite!" is the theme as first responders, Flight for Life, representatives from Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network and hospital staff members celebrate the Level 1 trauma center anniversary Tuesday with a barbecue, hot dogs, bratwurst and other goodies.
"We always have to be prepared to take care of the unexpected and be in the game and ready to roll," Buch said.