BEMIDJI -- The Sanford Bemidji Medical Center has been designated as a level 3 trauma hospital by the Minnesota Department of Health, and in the process, added to the state's trauma system.

According to a press release from Sanford, the process included an outside review of the hospital's resources and capabilities to care for trauma patients. The hospital met the standards of commitment, clinical and equipment resources, as well as staff training in the review.

States with trauma systems have seen survival rates increase by 15 to 20 percent, the release said. Wide scale participation in the voluntary trauma system helps ensure that a statewide cooperative effort is in place to care for seriously injured patients.

"We are pleased with the Department of Health's decision to appoint Sanford Bemidji Medical Center as a level 3 trauma hospital," said Renee Axtman, executive director of operations for the emergency department at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. "With this new designation, we look forward to expanding our local trauma care ensuring our friends, family and neighbors have immediate care when they need it most."

"Trauma is the third leading cause of death in Minnesota. The goal of the trauma system is to decrease injured patients' time to care by making sure their medical needs are appropriately matched with hospital resources," said Jan Malcolm, state health commissioner. "With the designation of Sanford Bemidji as a level 3 trauma hospital, we are getting closer to our goal of ensuring that seriously injured Minnesotans have access to an organized system of trauma care wherever they are in the state."