Gary J. Passama, President and Chief Executive Officer of NorthBay Healthcare System since 1981, is a veteran of more than 40 years in Northern California health care. He has served as faculty and speaker for programs of the American Hospital Association, Hospital Council of Northern California and the Medical Group Management Association. He is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

A Picture of What's Ahead | Main | It's Happening in East Texas

The Next Level

Last week the Solano Emergency Medical Services Cooperative (SEMSC) approved a timeline and process which will be used to decide which of two organizations in Solano County will be designated as a Level II trauma center for Solano County. 

The other organization will be able to maintain its Level III trauma center.

We have indicated an interest in having NorthBay Medical Center receive the Level II designation. The primary distinguishing characteristic of a Level II trauma center is the ability to treat traumatic head injuries.

NorthBay has a long history of providing neurosurgical care. We recruited Solano's first neurosurgeon in the 1980s. That neurosurgeon, Dr. Mary Mancini, practiced for more than 10 years in NorthBay Medical Center until she left her medical practice to care for her family. Since that time she has served on both the NorthBay Healthcare Group Board and NorthBay Healthcare Foundation boards. Currently she is on the NorthBay Healthcare System board, which means she is one of my bosses.

Later this month a new neurosurgeon will join NorthBay, bringing his outstanding credentials to Solano County. He will be in full-time practice doing both elective neurosurgery as well as dealing with head trauma. He will be assisted in providing trauma coverage by a panel of well-regarded neurosurgeons. NorthBay's new neurosurgeon's practice is unique and different in that it will be open to all, not just patients seen in our trauma center. More details will follow soon.

Back to the SEMSC, the process it has outlined is patient focused and not politically driven. Both the SEMSC Board of Directors and the county EMS staff deserve much credit for making the designation process rigorous, but fair. Outside trauma experts will evaluate the proposals they receive and make site visits before finalizing a recommendation to the SEMSC board which will make the final decision. That should occur in October.

We believe NorthBay has the much stronger case to make for the Level II trauma designation given our experience, geographic location and documented quality of trauma care here. We believe the process used by SEMSC will discern that.

For the next few months we will work on our application, which is due July 15. Solano residents should feel good about how the governing board of emergency medical services has approached this important but potentially contentious decision.