Five Questions With: Nie Bohlen

Nie Bohlen is a registered nurse and the director of trauma, burn and children’s surgery verification at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital. She discusses the programs after the trauma center, a Level 1 facility, and the burn center recently earned re-verification from the American College of Surgeons and from the American Burn Association. 

PBN: What are some of the criteria for verification as a Level 1 trauma center and verification as a burn center?

BOHLEN: To be verified by the American College of Surgeons, trauma centers must meet strict criteria and demonstrate they can treat complex and life-threatening injuries. Verified trauma centers must be able to treat or operate on the most seriously injured patients within 15 minutes of arrival, so our operating room and intensive care unit must be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To be verified by the American Burn Association, a burn center must be able to meet the highest standards of care for burn-injured patients, from the time of injury through rehabilitation. For instance, verified burn centers must have a specialized unit at the hospital that is dedicated to acute burn care.

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PBN: How many serious trauma or burn patients are treated each year at Rhode Island Hospital and its Hasbro Children’s Hospital?

BOHLEN: Our hospital has treated an average of 5,000 adults and 400 children annually over the last five years in either the adult or pediatric trauma center or burn center. Falls are the most common cause of injuries. Surprisingly, more individuals die from fall-related injuries than any other mechanism. Motor vehicle collisions are the second-most common cause of injury we treat in our trauma centers.

PBN: When did the hospital first earn its Level 1 trauma center certification, and what is the geographical area that it serves?

BOHLEN: Rhode Island Hospital opened a trauma center in 1980, and then in 1995 – the year following the addition of Hasbro Children’s Hospital – the adult and pediatric trauma centers were verified as Level 1, which means the centers are able to provide total care to patients for every aspect of their injury.

Rhode Island Hospital and its Hasbro Children’s Hospital is the only hospital in New England with both adult and pediatric Level 1 trauma center and a burn center on-site. The hospital is also home to the only burn center and Level 1 trauma center in Rhode Island, southeastern Massachusetts and northeastern Connecticut.

PBN: What special qualifications do the doctors and nurses have who work with the most serious trauma or burn patients?

BOHLEN: Trauma and burn surgeons are fully trained general surgeons who then go on to complete specialized training in trauma and burn care. Additionally, most are ICU doctors. All staff providing care to trauma/burn patients must complete initial education, as well as ongoing education, every year on the care of injured patients. The doctors attend educational conferences weekly.

PBN: Does the hospital also provide specialized services for these patients as they begin to recover?

BOHLEN: Absolutely. From the day the patient arrives in our trauma or burn center, we provide specialized care to help them recover. There are so many specialties contributing to the care of patients. All of our providers are specially trained in trauma or burn care and are highly skilled in their respective professions. We have a multidisciplinary care team comprised of injury preventionists, nursing assistants, therapists, technicians, dieticians, social workers, child life specialists, research personnel, translators, as well as many others.

Elizabeth Graham is a PBN contributing writer.