Harlan ARH Hospital is Kentucky’s Newest Trauma Center

Harlan ARH Hospital is Kentucky’s Newest Trauma Center

Bill Stephens

October 28th, 2016


FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 28, 2016) – The Kentucky Department for Public Health recognized its eighteenth trauma center on Oct. 26 when Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Hiram Polk, MD, designated Harlan Appalachian Regional Healthcare Hospital as a Level IV Trauma Center at a ceremony during the 2016 Kentucky Trauma and Emergency Medicine Symposium in Lexington.

“I am extremely proud to recognize the efforts of the team at Harlan ARH Hospital who have worked diligently on building their trauma capabilities over the past year,” said Dr. Polk. “This is important to the citizens of Harlan County, southeastern Kentucky, and portions of southwestern Virginia because it is important to get severely injured people quickly into the hands of trained medical staff that have the equipment and facilities best able to save lives.”

Harlan is part of the not-for-profit Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, headquartered in Lexington, which operates eleven hospitals across eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia. Harlan ARH Hospital becomes the second Kentucky facility in the ARH system to become a trauma center. Morgan County ARH Hospital was designated as a Level IV Trauma Center this past June, and several others are working on achieving this milestone in the future.

“Our medical staff, employees and first responders in Harlan County all went above and beyond in their preparations for this achievement and we are very proud of the effort taken to improve the level of emergency service we are able to provide to our community,” said Donnie Fields, Community CEO of Harlan ARH Hospital. “It has truly been a team effort and a great learning experience for everyone involved with the drills and preparation work required to achieve this status and allows us to provide a higher level of care for our patients.”

Since the Kentucky Trauma Care System law was passed in 2008, the number of facilities has grown from about five American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma designated trauma centers clustered primarily in Louisville, Lexington and Campbellsville, to a statewide network of eighteen.

There are four tiers in the Kentucky Trauma Care System that are based on the capabilities of the facilities. The top two levels are generally associated with medical teaching hospitals, resident training programs, and the 24-hour availability of advanced surgical interventions. Kentucky has two Level I adult trauma centers, and two Level I pediatric trauma centers, in Louisville and Lexington. The Level II trauma center in Pikeville serves portions of West Virginia. Level III trauma centers have board certified or eligible emergency physicians on duty 24 hours, have general and orthopedic surgeons available to them around the clock, and a variety of support services either in-house or recallable in a short time-frame. Kentucky has Level III trauma centers at regional hospitals in Campbellsville, Danville, Frankfort and Owensboro.

Level IV trauma centers are physician staffed emergency departments with appropriate trauma treatment protocols, equipment, and supplies in place. In addition to the our newest Level IV trauma center in Harlan, there are additional Level IV trauma centers in Cynthiana, Salem, Harrodsburg, Irvine, Morganfield, Mount Vernon, Stanford and West Liberty.

Becoming a Trauma Center is a voluntary effort for hospitals, but is guided by both national guidelines and Kentucky state regulations. Hospitals eligible to become a trauma center are verified through the American College of Surgeons for Level I, II and III centers or by professionals designated by the Commissioner for Public Health to visit and verify Level IV facilities.

”There are at least three to five additional future trauma centers in development across the state, and two of our existing trauma centers are already looking at potentially offering a higher level of trauma care over the next few years,” Dr. Polk noted.

More information about the Kentucky Trauma Care System can be found at

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