New Level II Trauma Center to serve Aldine & N. Harris


By David Taylor Northeast News Editor

NORTH HARRIS COUNTY – HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood has earned Level II trauma center designation by the Texas Department of State Health Services and received verification of its trauma status by the American College of Surgeons. The designation allows Emergency Medical Services to transport patients to a closer hospital without a time-consuming trip downtown.

The Kingwood hospital received the designation in June and becomes one of only 27 facilities in the state of Texas to earn the designation and the fourth HCA hospital in the Gulf Coast area including Clear Lake, Northwest, and Conroe in Montgomery County.

“We are excited to receive our Level II trauma verification and designation,” said John Corbeil, CEO of HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood. “We have assembled an excellent trauma team and are proud to work with our EMS partners to offer advanced trauma care close to home for the communities we serve.”

The State of Texas Department of Health Services assigns trauma designations from Level I (highest) to Level IV (lowest). Levels I and II provide the same level of care for trauma patients. Both must provide a comprehensive trauma program with a wide range of specialists and life-saving equipment available 24 hours a day. The only difference between a Level I and Level II facility is Level I facilities offer teaching and research.

To receive this designation, facilities must first achieve verification from the American College of Surgeons (ACS). ACS does not designate trauma centers but confirms that a trauma center has demonstrated its commitment to providing the highest quality trauma care for all injured patients.

“It took incredible teamwork and dedication by the hospital staff and administration, who made a huge investment in procuring equipment and securing specialists to meet the requirements of Level II designation,” says Neil Grieshop, M.D., medical director of trauma service s at HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood. “With trauma care, time is critical, and North Houston area residents will greatly benefit from having a higher-level trauma center nearby.”

Location strategy was key to the mission at Kingwood.

“Currently, there are no Level II Trauma centers between Kingwood and downtown and going north, nothing all the way to Tyler, Texas. That’s a very large area we’ll be able to serve and with the addition of AirLife helicopters, which we’ve been able to station out north of here (in Liberty), we’ll be able to extend that reach as well,” Corbeil said.

Work on the Level II achievement began in 2018 when HCA Kingwood didn’t have any trauma designation.

“We applied for Level III pursuit and achieved that successfully in 2020. It’s been about a four-year process to achieve Level II, some of that delayed in the middle of the pandemic,” he said.

In December 2022, the hospital successfully passed the American College of Surgeons rigorous survey to acquire the Level II distinction.

“We passed that with zero deficiencies and received the designation last month,” Corbeil said.

Staffing was another significant component addressed by the hospital.

“I think the biggest component and leveling up for trauma was physician staffing, ensuring that we have all the adequate specialties represented,” said Joel North, chief operating officer for the hospital.

That includes a roundthe- clock trauma surgeon, orthopedic and neurosurgeons available.

They also have a residency program that assists and learns the processes.

“We began that process in 2019 with our first class of residents with a graduate medical education program in affiliation with the University of Houston,” Corbeil said.

The first class was focused on surgery and internal medicine. They have since added emergency medicine and transitional year programs.

“We look at how those two really synergistically support each other, probably the main differences are research and residency within the Level I versus a Level 2 program,” the CEO said.

Corbeil said they have aspirations of becoming a Level 1 hospital having a robust residency program including research but doesn’t have a timeframe for execution of that goal.

Currently, in the Harris County area, only three hospitals are rated as Level 1—Memorial Hermann, Ben Taub, and Texas Children’s— all of which are located downtown.

“I’ve been fairly bullish with our strategy out here and closer to the community outside of the Texas Medical Center. If we do have the ability to pursue Level 1 and as part of a plan in which we want to deploy, it would be the first of its kind here outside of the TMC,” Corbeil said.

The designation has also brought increases with inpatient surgeries. The hospital is currently undergoing an expansion to increase their number of operating rooms to 14 with the ancillary services connected.