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FRENCH CAMP, Calif. (KTXL) — The San Joaquin County Emergency Medical Services Agency said the hospital has long been operating at a higher trauma center level and now has the Level II designation to match the hospital’s level of care.

“If indeed there is a traumatic injury, San Joaquin General Hospital is here for you 24/7, with a very, very qualified team, very, very competent team to take care of you,” said San Joaquin General Hospital CEO David Culberson.

It’s an achievement years in the making.

“We’re able to handle nearly all types of trauma right here in French Camp,” Culberson told FOX40.

Culberson said it’s the first time the hospital has ever reached this upgraded designation. 

“We’ve added additional surgical specialties to be able to handle nearly all of the patients that are coming here,” he explained.

The hospital had been a Level III trauma center since 2013. 

At one point in 2016, the county EMS Agency noted deficiencies and limited the kinds of trauma patients the hospital could accept, forcing more serious cases to be diverted to Modesto or Sacramento. A plan was put in place and those restrictions were lifted months later. 

“We’ve really changed things around and I’m very, very confident at the quality that we provide as a trauma program,” Culberson told FOX40.

To reach a Level II designation, the hospital had to hire more surgeons and critical care staff, and improve patient safety.

“There’s always something you can work on at a trauma center, but we’ve really identified a number of things, fixed it, moved on,” Culberson said. 

The hospital also has to meet standards set by the American College of Surgeons, which mandates Level II trauma centers must be able to get to emergency patients within 15 minutes of them arriving at least 85% of the time. 

Culberson said they far exceed those standards because they now have surgeons staffed 24/7.

“We’re able to make sure we’re meeting you at the door,” he said. “We’re responding as appropriate here because time is life when it comes to trauma cases.”

Culberson said with the new systems in place, he’s confident the hospital can keep the new designation.

“We want to make sure we’re the best Level II center we can be and we’re going to make sure that we’re there for many, many years to come,” Culberson told FOX40.

The hospital said there are no plans to try to become a Level I trauma center in the future because that would require becoming an academic teaching hospital like UC Davis or Stanford.