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Employees from Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine conduct emergency care on a patient. The school was recently awarded a national designation as a Veterinary Trauma Center.

Photo: Courtesy of Penn School of Veterinary Medicine / Penn School of Veterinary Medicine

Penn School of Veterinary Medicine’s Ryan Hospital has been designated by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care as the only Veterinary Trauma Center in Pennsylvania on Monday, and one of just nine centers nationwide.

Erica Reineke, an assistant professor in emergency and critical care at the Vet School, said the award is “a recognition of the type of care we can provide… [which is] state-of-the-art and comprehensive.”

According to a press release from the Vet School, Veterinary Trauma Centers are chosen based on the ability to “provide total care for … the small animal trauma patient” and the “availability of board-certified specialists for consultation … in the fields of emergency and critical care, surgery, and radiology.”

Chief of the Section of Critical Care at the Vet School Kenneth Drobatz said that the 400-person board of ACVECC had created a list of qualities necessary for a veterinary hospital to be considered a Trauma Center and then judged hospitals throughout the country to award the new distinction.

However, as Drobatz explained, the hospital “didn’t have to change anything when [ACVECC] developed these criteria,” he said, “but we’re now being recognized for what we’ve been doing already.”

Drobatz added that Penn Vet sees high numbers of trauma patients. “Big cities create a lot of opportunities for animals to suffer,” he explained, “We see gunshot wounds, stabbings, animals hit by trains and cars [and] animals jumping out of high rises.”

Penn Vet’s location in Philadelphia has allowed it to develop a procedure for the kinds of acute animal trauma caused by an urban setting. Many veterinary hospitals, which tend to be located in more rural areas, have less experience with injuries like gunshot wounds.

Reineke hoped that ACVECC’s Veterinary Trauma Center distinction would also help top veterinary hospitals to work together in the future.

She said that the recognized Centers aim to create a trauma registry, in which they would detail cases and their outcomes in order to provide better care. She added that “it’s modeled after what they’re doing in human medicine: hospitals recognizing and collaborating with other hospitals,” and ultimately the registry would allow veterinary hospitals to “continue to gather data to further our knowledge.”

The staff at Penn Vet see the new title of Veterinary Trauma Center as a reflection of the work they have done.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” assistant veterinary tech supervisor Elisa Rogers said. “We have a really solid emergency room, and being designated as a trauma center is quite a feat for us.”

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