Sign up for the Unity Health Toronto newsletter, a monthly update on the latest news, stories, patient voices and research emailed directly to subscribers. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.

St. Michael’s Hospital has become one of a very small number of health centres outside of the United States to meet the verification criteria as a Level 1 Trauma Centre by the American College of Surgeons.

The trauma team, with the support of various departments including radiology, transfusion medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, research, rehabilitation, emergency preparedness, anesthesiology,  intensive care and more, received its stamp of approval on Dec. 7, after a two-day virtual visit by accreditors who evaluated various aspects of the trauma care process.

Dr. Najma Ahmed, trauma physician and Surgeon-in-Chief of St. Michael’s Hospital, says trauma differs from many other specialties because patients aren’t able to research their care providers or visit the hospital of their choosing. They are brought by ground or air transport during incredibly frightening times when their lives may hang in the balance.

“Receiving the ACS verification means that our clinical and quality improvement programs ensure that injured patients brought to St. Michael’s receive the best care, supported by the best evidence,” says Ahmed.

This achievement highlights not only the quality of care patients receive at the hospital, but also the dedication of staff and physicians who have worked over the past few years to deliver on hundreds of standards as required by the ACS, including in areas like research, education and quality improvement.

“It’s the people that make our program special. It’s the patients and the care providers. It’s about our mission and our commitment to do the utmost to heal the sick and injured and improve the lives of the populations we serve,” says Ahmed. “And for this mission we will never rest, and never do less than what is needed.”

Amanda McFarlan, Manager, Trauma Program Registry and Quality Assurance Specialist, and Verity Tulloch, Quality Improvement Specialist, have spent years working towards the ACS verification. They say changes to the delivery of trauma care in the lead up to the assessment are already benefitting patients.

“This verification confirms that we work at one of the best trauma centres in the world,” says Tulloch. “That’s something we should all be really proud of.”

To learn more about the trauma team and supporting departments, read these recent stories about their work advocating for victims of violence, training for rare emergency procedures and events, handling Ontario’s blood shortage, and innovating through research and education to save lives.

  1. How a St. Michael’s team is improving outcomes for CPR patients in the emergency room
  2. Dr. Najma Ahmed on the importance of treating gun violence as a public health issue
  3. How St. Michael’s Hospital medical staff prepare for rare emergency events
  4. Can life-saving care be delivered right where major traumas happen? St. Michael’s researchers are trying to find out
  5. St. Michael’s researchers are studying the efficacy of out-of-hospital blood transfusion
  6. Code Orange: How the St. Michael’s Emergency Department prepares for an external disaster
  7. How violent crime is worsening Canada’s blood shortage

On November 30, staff and physicians at St. Michael’s held a dry run of the site visit, visiting the emergency department, trauma bays, blood bank, operating rooms and more to plan out how the day of evaluation would unfold. Take a look through the photo gallery below to meet some of the people involved in this incredible achievement and get a glimpse of what trauma care looks like behind the scenes.

Niko DaSilva, Materials/Equipment Coordinator Trauma & Neurosurgery ICU, and Nicole Grande, Clinical Educator – Nursing Trauma, Neurosurgery & CC, prep for a tour of the operating rooms.
Anne Sorvari, Manager Research Program Oncology Health Services, Celine Callender, Clinical Educator – Nursing Emergency Department, Farah Warsi, Clinical Educator – Nursing Emergency Department, Dr. Garrick Mok, Emergency Physician, and Sadie McClure, Registered Nurse, do a test run of the ACS site visit in the trauma bay.
Les Porter, Clinical Educator – Nursing Trauma, Neurosurgery & CC, and Candis Kokoski, Clinical Leader Manager (CLM), give a Zoom tour of the ambulance bay.
Verity Tulloch and Niko DaSilva set up for a practice of the Zoom site visit.
A trauma bay in St. Michael’s Hospital.
Bags of blood for trauma patients in transfusion medicine.
The blood bank at St. Michael’s Hospital.
Russell Ombao, Medical Laboratory Technologist, giving a tour of transfusion medicine.

By: Olivia Lavery