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UPHS-Portage Emergency Center well-equipped

(Jon Jaehnig/For the Gazette) The UP Health System-Portage Emergency Department is prepared to handle a variety of challenges to offer quality medical care to the local area.

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A hospital is only as good as its staff. With groundbreaking medical discoveries being made every day, and new technology being introduced to help care providers meet the challenges of their field, ongoing training is required. At UP Health System – Portage, it is also necessary to ensure that the 25 to 35 people who go through the Emergency Department (ED) each day receive the best possible care.

“We are a Level III Trauma Center certified by the American College of Surgeons. We treat all types of traumatic injuries from major to minor, and we treat them promptly and appropriately,” said UPHS-Portage Emergency Management Program Coordinator Sarah Niemela. “All of our trauma physicians are board-certified. We are staffed with two emergency surgeons and a radiologist and have a fully functional operating room and respiratory therapy 24/7.”

Niemela has served in her position since April after working in the ED for the last 14 years. As Emergency Management Program Director, it is Niemela’s job to write the policies that keep the department running smoothly, as well as to monitor how well these policies are working.

“All of our Nursing staff has specialized training to care for trauma patients and critically ill adults and pediatric patients with current certifications,” said Niemela.  “Our Emergency Physicians and Trauma Surgeons have specialized trauma training by way of Advanced Trauma Life Support.”

Niemela’s position means that she knows the UPHS – Portage ED better than just about anyone.

“This time of year, we see a lot of snowmobile accidents,” said Niemela. “Also ski injuries, snowboard injuries, hockey, sledding, and broomball injuries once that gets going at Michigan Tech. Falls are probably No. 1.”

The ED is not only interested in treating injuries; the staff is also involved in injury prevention programs. These programs help to educate the public on how to avoid accidents as well as minimize risk during activities like sports.

“We suggest helmets for many activities, including biking in the summer and skiing and snowmobiling in the winter,” said Niemela. “Speed on snowmobiles seems to often be a factor (in crashes) … know where you are, know your surroundings, and don’t use drugs and alcohol while doing these activities.”

In the case of fall-prevention, Niemela recommends walking aids like Yaktrax or putting ice picks on the bottoms of canes. She also had advice for winter sports enthusiasts who often go off the beaten trail where it may be difficult to get aid if needed.

“If the signal isn’t strong enough to make a call, a text has a greater chance of success,” said Niemela. “Every 911 center in the UP is able to receive texts, and they will respond to you when they receive the text, letting you know they got it. They are able to send help based on your cell phone coordinates.”

A common question since UPHS – Portage opened up their Express Care Clinics in Houghton and Calumet is where the line between going to Express Care and going to the Emergency Department should be. To help answer this question, Niemela pointed out that the Express Care locations have business hours, while the Emergency Department is staffed 24 hours. Also, the Express Care in Calumet offers diagnostic imaging, while the Express Care in Houghton does not.

“If you go to Express Care and it’s something they can’t handle; they will send you here,” said Niemela.

The UP Health System – Portage Emergency Department is located at the Hancock Campus at 500 Campus Drive. You can call ahead with questions at 906.483.1000, but in an emergency, call or text 911.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This feature is part of an advertising package. All the content in this feature has been created or approved by the advertiser, which is solely responsible for the content. Businesses interested in being featured on the Business Page may call Yvonne Robillard at 483-2220.