Congresswoman Barbara Lee Praises Essential Trauma Services at Highland Hospital

The highest level of trauma care now has a home right in the East Bay at Alameda Health System. Top executives, physicians, nurses and staff of AHS joined Congresswoman Barbara Lee and other dignitaries from the region at a news conference to announce the American College of Surgeons (ACS) verified Highland Hospital as an adult Level 1 Trauma Center, the highest designation given by the national organization. This recognition for excellence makes Highland Hospital the only adult Level 1 trauma facility in the East Bay.

Before the news conference, Congresswoman Barbara Lee toured Highland’s Trauma Center with key leaders including Delvecchio Finley, chief executive officer, AHS, to learn more about the critical services provided to East Bay residents.

“I am truly pleased with the high-quality service offered at Highland Hospital and every patient in Oakland, and throughout the East Bay, should be confident that they are receiving the best care,” said Congresswoman Lee. “A majority of the patients seen at Highland Hospital, and throughout the Alameda Health System, are Medi-Cal recipients, and repealing the Affordable Care Act would have had devastating impacts on their access to care, and the quality of care AHS can provide.”

Highland provides essential health care services to all residents and treats more than 2,400 trauma patients each year; most of them are victims of traffic accidents and seniors suffering falls. Level 1 indicates the center’s 24/7 ability to treat all trauma incidents with the highest skill level. The Highland Trauma team earned the designation following one of the most rigorous verification processes in the country.

“Verification as an adult Level 1 Trauma Center validates the quality of trauma care we provide, and acknowledges all departments at Highland Hospital — not just the trauma surgeons and surgical subspecialists, but all departments that collaborate to save patient lives before, during and after their admittance to the Emergency Department,” said Gregory Victorino, M.D., chief of Trauma Division at Highland Hospital. “This national recognition emphasizes that we are truly a comprehensive medical center, and solidifies our commitment to being a regional and national leader.”

An ACS team of trauma experts conducted an onsite review and an analysis of the full spectrum of care, from the pre-hospital phase through rehabilitation. Highland received national verification based on its ability to treat all aspects of incoming trauma cases with certified trauma surgeons immediately available for any critical care need. The accreditation will undergo renewal every three years.

At the news conference, Oakland resident and former trauma center patient Hugo Campos shared his story of the highly skilled care he received when he was a treated at Highland after collapsing and passing out from a previously undiagnosed, heart condition. Following his treatment, he lost his health insurance. Campos said he wasn’t able to get new insurance because he now had a pre-existing condition.

“If it weren’t for the Affordable Care Act, I wouldn’t be here today,” Campos said. “It renewed my sense of hope that I could continue to live a healthy life. I no longer live in fear because I now have access to quality health care.”

“Alameda Health System is Alameda County’s public health care system, and is the heart of the county’s health care safety net, providing comprehensive care to all residents,” said Finley. “Our trauma services are an example of essential services we provide for the entire community, including hard-working, low-income individuals and their families. Our hope is that proposed changes to the ACA will allow us to maintain these critical services and provide vulnerable populations with greater assurance of coverage and access to health when needed.”  

Under the ACA, which included the expansion of Medi-Cal, Alameda County’s uninsured rate dropped from 12.6 percent to 4.8 percent. Alameda Health System has since seen an 18 percent increase in primary and specialty care utilization. Projections show AHS would lose $94 million in revenue each year if the government repeals the ACA.

“Highland Hospital has always been a valued partner in providing vital emergency medical services in Alameda County,” said Travis Kusman, director of Alameda County Emergency Medical Services Agency. “The Level I Trauma Center designation validates Highland's commitment to the consistent delivery of high-quality care to critically injured patients.”

The designation also affirms Highland’s commitment beyond care at the bedside to its engagement in teaching and training of future providers, and the establishment of programs to prevent traumatic injuries. 

View the archived press conference on our Facebook page at

You can also view the video here.

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