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Eastern Idaho Medical Center Celebrates Trauma Status

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -- Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center is the only one in the state to be given the Level II trauma center designation.

It was an evening of reflection and praise.

Local officials gathered Thursday to share a moment of gratitude for the heroic acts taking place at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center's new Level II trauma center.

EIRMC has a lot to be thankful for. Within the past year, it was given the only Level II trauma center designation in the state. The certification of the trauma center endorses that the hospital has the resources to treat most trauma cases.

"This is a wonderful milestone in the evolution of Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center," EIRMC CEO Doug Crabtree said.

By achieving Level II status, EIRMC has received the highest pinnacle possible, he said.

Although the crowd and hospital staff was in a celebratory mood, the road to becoming a Level II hospital was not an easy one.

"I can't remember if we had 44 pages of deficiencies or 44 deficiencies," Crabtree said jokingly of the hospital's list of things to address.

Crabtree wasn't the only person who had good things to say. Idaho Falls Mayor Jared Fuhriman also took time to speak to the crowd.

"In reality, it's not only EIRMC's celebration, it's also the community's," he said.

"Trauma verification ... is something else I can brag about," Fuhriman added. "To be the only hospital to carry this distinction is very impressive."

The star of EIRMC's celebration was an ex-patient, the victim of a grizzly attack.

It was May 23 when Jim Cole, an author and photographer from Bozeman, Mont., was hiking in Yellowstone National Park and surprised a grizzly.

"I got hammered pretty hard," he said of the attack.

Cole, who suffered severe facial wounds and the loss of one eye, was taken by ambulance to West Yellowstone, Mont., and then flown by helicopter to EIRMC.

The next thing he remembers is waking up at EIRMC three days later.

Cole, who grew up in Chicago, said he has been in and out of hospitals his entire life and believed something was different about EIRMC, especially the people.

"It was something you feel in the heart, not something you could quantify," Cole said with tears in his eyes.

Cole spent nine hours in surgery. After that, he was in the Intensive Care Unit for eight days, putting his total stay in the hospital at 11 days.

When he left, Cole told the hospital staff he would be back. And he kept his promise.

He returned three months ago to thank hospital staff.

When he returned, "it was like a love fest," he said.

Cole believes that for the "people in this hospital, it's not just a job, it's a way of life."

The man of the hour shared the story to an appreciative audience, which began to see what the trauma center can do for the community and those who suffer a tragedy.

People now say "'It's good to see you,' and my comment is, 'It's good to be seen,'" Cole said. "To be the only hospital to carry this distinction is very impressive."

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