Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center

Peds Trauma Girl Closeup Photo

In 2013, Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) was re-verified as a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons (ACS). This verification—the highest possible—recognizes HCMC's distinctive expertise in caring for critically ill and injured children, which we acquired through years of experience. In 1989, we became Minnesota's first Level I Trauma Center for both adults and children. Since then we have continued a strong tradition of providing state-of-the-art trauma care to all of our patients, including the youngest and most vulnerable.

What does it mean to be a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center?

When the worst happens, you don’t want to waste precious minutes while your child is transferred from place to place. Hospitals such as HCMC that are officially Level I Pediatric Trauma Centers have everything in place and ready to care for seriously injured children from the time of injury through rehabilitation. This high level of preparation can significantly increase a seriously injured patient’s chances of survival.

What are some of the requirements that HCMC met in order to be verified as a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center?

Peds Trauma Staff Photo

HCMC is regularly inspected by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), a national trauma organization. Level I verification means that we maintain the staff, skills, facilities, and equipment necessary to provide the highest level of surgical care to injured children—24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Additionally, as a Level I center, we have excellent education and research programs as well as preventive and outreach programs. To learn more about our trauma prevention programs, many of which address injuries that occur in children, visit our Trauma Prevention page. We are the Minnesota site for the Injury Free Coalition for Kids, which is a national organization that aims to prevent childhood injuries through an evidence-based approach. We also serve as a referral resource for communities in the metro area and greater Minnesota as well as North Dakota and South Dakota.

What are the fundamental services HCMC offers as a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center?

Peds Trauma Child with Mask, Staff and Parents Photo
  • 24-hour in-house coverage by general surgeons
  • Prompt availability of physicians from varying specialties: orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, pediatric critical care
  • A pediatric operating room that is always available
  • Priority status for pediatric lab work and radiology
  • Experienced, highly trained pediatric trauma nursing staff and trauma nurse clinicians

What sets HCMC apart from other Level I Pediatric Trauma Centers?

A particular area of expertise at HCMC is neurotrauma. We have a nationally recognized Traumatic Brain Injury Center, which includes the Pediatric Brain Injury Program. This program caters to children who have sustained traumatic brain injuries ranging from mild concussions to more severe injuries that require emergent surgical intervention.

If HCMC was previously providing Level I trauma care to children, why was it recently verified as a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center?

Though HCMC has been providing trauma services for many years, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) recently changed their pediatric trauma criteria and encouraged adult trauma centers that also took care of many children to pursue a separate verification.