BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical has been verified as a Level One adult trauma center by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), making it the first in the region and third in the state of Louisiana.

“This is a big deal for our community and the nearly one million people who live and work in the region,” said Catherine O’Neal, MD, chief medical officer at Our Lady of the Lake. “A Level 1 trauma center designation means Our Lady of the Lake has the resources and care needed before, during and after a trauma event. Our trauma center saves countless lives every year, and I am extremely proud of the dedication and hard work that our trauma team provides day in and day out. We have the best physicians, nurses and partners to care for our community.”  

According to a press release, Our Lady of the Lake’s trauma center benefits from the resources of being a nationally recognized academic medical center as the Baton Rouge healthcare partner of Louisiana State University. Additionally, a strong relationship with community physicians and a robust graduate medical education program supports the trauma center’s care, training and research efforts. 

“More than a decade ago, when Our Lady of the Lake and LSU launched their historic partnership, both institutions committed to bringing this important distinction to Baton Rouge,” said William F. Tate IV, LSU President. “Through much hard work and commitment of the clinical teams and researchers, I’m excited to celebrate this milestone. Our team at LSU looks forward to many more years of partnership with Our Lady of the Lake. Research is at the very core of our mission, and the work we are doing here together will undoubtedly save lives.”

Our Lady of the Lake Trauma Medical Director Dr. Tomas Jacome said becoming a Level One trauma center will aid them in research that can benefit patients nationwide.

“We are looking to see how we can achieve what I said is zero non-preventable deaths which is important for our mission and for what we do as trauma surgeons,” said Dr. Jacome.

Dr. Jacome said gunshot wounds are some of the most common injuries they see in their emergency rooms. Now, Our Lady of the Lake will be the priority destination.

“The most complex injuries will come to the Level One trauma centers,” said Dr. Jacome.

Level One trauma centers also require a trauma team at the hospital 24/7 ready to jump into action.

“We have seen a nationwide increase of gun violence and we are prepared for that, we are prepared for some of these mass shootings that, hopefully, God forbid happen,” said Dr. Jacome.

“The quality of our emergency department nurses, physicians and processes equate to fast response times and a high level of care when it matters the most,” added Dr. Jacome. “We’ve had the volume of the Level 1 center for some time, but now we’ve added the research and education systems to truly set the center apart ensuring our community is cared for when they need it the most.” 

Our Lady of the Lake has been a Level Two trauma center for the past nine years. Dr. Jacome explained that for the past five or six years the medical center has been operating as a Level One trauma center and this new classification will not result in more jobs.

This is the highest possible level for a hospital trauma center, from prevention through rehabilitation. Local leaders celebrated the status at the hospital Monday:

“It is a great day for Baton Rouge once again with the designation of Our Lady of the Lake Baton Rouge becoming a level one trauma center,” said East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. “The impacts of this will certainly resonate with the residents here in Baton Rouge and of course throughout the region and state as well.”

“I applaud the team at Our Lady of the Lake for their hard work and commitment to being designated a Level 1 trauma center,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “As we continue to invest in our partner hospitals, I am amazed at the level of innovation, commitment to patient care, and dedication to the community I see every day. This is great news for the Capitol Region, which cares for a large population of our state. Lives will be saved as Louisiana’s largest hospital is now recognized as having the ability to provide care for the most critically ill trauma patients.”