Show of support

Beth Hughes shows her support for the new trauma center at Banner Thunderbird Oct. 2. “This is awesome,” she said about the center’s opening.

Banner Thunderbird Medical Center held a ceremony to open the state’s newest Level I Trauma Center, extending for the first time ever the highest level of emergency care available to the roughly 750,000 residents who live in the Northwest Valley. Banner Thunderbird, 5555 W. Thunderbird Road in Glendale, is the West Valley’s largest and busiest hospital with 555 inpatient beds for children and adults and more than 106,000 visits annually to its emergency room.

At the ceremony, Banner Thunderbird CEO Deb Krmpotic publicly announced Banner Thunderbird’s plan to open the center. All state-designated Level I trauma centers receive “provisional” status their first year.

With the opening, Banner Thunderbird became the fourth hospital within Banner to hold the state’s “Level I” trauma center designation.

“We have a highly trained and very experienced hospital staff that already cares for more than 168,000 patients a year, or an average of 460 patients a day,” said Dr. Kumash Patel, Banner Thunderbird’s medical director of Trauma Services. “So providing this higher level of care was a natural next step in the evolution of our hospital’s services.”

Several years ago, the Arizona Department of Health Services established criteria and standards for designating trauma centers as Level I, II, III or IV, based on a hospital’s resources and capabilities. These level designations help ensure that emergency responders get trauma patients to the hospital best equipped and staffed to care for those patients, ensuring faster and safer delivery of care to this patient population.

Designation as an Arizona Level I Trauma Center means the hospital can provide total care for every aspect of injury, greatly reducing the need to transfer them outside the area for life-saving treatment. Examples of injuries a Level I can treat include traumatic car crash injuries, gunshot victims, stab wounds and traumatic brain injuries.

“I congratulate our hard-working and dedicated colleagues at Banner Thunderbird for achieving this important milestone for the hospital and, most importantly, for the patients we serve,” said Krmpotic. “It has been a worthwhile journey.”

Banner has three Level I trauma centers: one in central Phoenix at Banner-University Medical Center Phoenix, one in the East Valley at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa and one in southern Arizona at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson.

Banner Thunderbird Medical Center specializes in heart care, surgical services, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency care, behavioral health, cancer care, rehabilitation and pediatrics, including the West Valley’s only pediatric intensive care unit, pediatric emergency department and Level III neonatal intensive care unit. The hospital is part of Banner Health, a nonprofit health system with 28 hospitals in six states. For more information, visit