Pennsylvania animal clinic receives national trauma center status

The Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center (VSEC) in Levittown, Pa., is the 27th veterinary medical facility to receive this status

The Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center (VSEC) in Levittown, Pa., became the 27th veterinary medical facility to be named an official trauma center (TC).

“This is exciting, because it shows we stand out as one of the leaders in the country for emergency and critical care,” said Garret Pachtinger, VMD, Dipl. ACVECC, director of VSEC.

Best of the Best

Only those animal hospitals that provide top-notch trauma care and study their patients to increase the body of knowledge for the betterment of patient treatment everywhere need apply.

“Veterinary trauma centers are considered hospitals that can provide total care for every aspect of management of the small animal trauma patient, from emergency stabilization through definitive medical and surgical care and rehabilitation,” Dr. Pachtinger explained.

In addition, facilities wishing to vie for trauma center status need highly trained personnel in advanced medical and surgical care, and they must remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Pachtinger stated that TCs often have a “dedicated intensive care unit and are under the supervision of an emergency and critical care specialist.” He added that they are often staffed by a full complement of veterinary specialists in various disciplines, such as anesthesia, cardiology, dentistry and oral surgery, diagnostic imaging, internal medicine, neurology and neurosurgery, ophthalmology and surgery.


The Veterinary Committee on Trauma (VCT), which operates under the auspices of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, has the final say as to which facilities receive the designation and those that don’t pass muster.

Facilities wishing to receive trauma center billing must first apply for provisional status and, if successful, wait a year before reapplying for official trauma center status, Pachtinger noted.

To date, the TC network consists of 27 VCT-designated trauma centers, including the Levittown facility, of which 24 are U.S.-based, with two in Canada and one in the United Kingdom.

“Our goal here [at VSEC in Levittown] is not only to provide great care for our patients, but also to contribute to the greater good and future of veterinary medicine,” Pachtinger said.

The Levittown veterinary facility, where Pachtinger serves, treats grievously injured dogs and cats, including those hit by vehicles, attacked by other dogs and injured in falls.

Eye on the Future

While there is no financial windfall for being designated a trauma center, Pachtinger acknowledged that there is a definite feeling of accomplishment that comes from the distinction.

“The main goal of becoming a National Trauma Center is the ability to … be part of the future of veterinary medicine, [as well as] improving and advancing patient care, not only in the present but guiding the practice of veterinary medicine for the future.”

The VSEC in Levittown is part of the BluePearl Veterinary Partners’ family of pet hospitals.

Originally published in the March 2017 issue of Veterinary Practice News. Did you enjoy this article? Then subscribe today! 

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