RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Healthcare professionals from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth are partnering with the medical team at VCU Medical Center’s Level I trauma center with a goal to reach zero preventable trauma-related deaths.

This program will integrate military trauma teams and providers with VCU Medical Center’s Level I trauma center to gain exposure to treating critically injured patients, increasing force readiness and developing skills for future deployments, according to a press release.

The partnership started last week with the arrival of the first group of nurses, and it includes academic and research initiatives.

“The addition of military colleagues will significantly enhance the skills and knowledge of our medical professionals at VCU Health,” said Dr. Michel Aboutanos, medical director of VCU Medical Center’s Level I trauma center and Trauma System Network. “It also gives military health professionals the unique opportunity to train at one of the top trauma centers in the country to strengthen and sustain their readiness to deploy.”

Traumatic injury is the leading cause of death in the United States for children and adults under age 44, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

VCU Health and Virginia Commonwealth University have a history of advancing trauma care for battlefield settings.

The establishment of military-civilian trauma partnerships aims to reduce the number of preventable deaths from traumatic injuries both on the battlefield and back home.

Last fall, VCU Medical Center was the only central Virginia recipient of a new U.S. Department of Health & Human Services “Mission Zero” grant, aimed at improving trauma care by combining the strengths of civilian hospitals and military trauma systems. The academic medical center received the Military-Civilian Partnership for Trauma Readiness grant along with 24 other hospitals across the country.

“The partnership will broadly benefit the Richmond community and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Michael Roussos, president of VCU Medical Center. “Many research discoveries and significant lessons learned in combat settings can be applied to urban and rural trauma management. Additionally, military experience in emergency preparedness and disaster management will be essential to enhance the emergency and disaster response system in Central Virginia.”

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