An Anoka High School graduate is the new director of trauma services at Hennepin County Medical Center.
Dr. Chad Richardson, 44, grew up in Dayton, but his parents Jack and Jackie moved the family to Andover in 1987. He has two sisters.
Richardson knew what he wanted to do for a living well before he graduated with the class of 1988 from Anoka High School. He wanted to work in a trauma unit.
Richardson’s father was a K9 handler officer with the Anoka Police Department for many years and witnessed acts of violence and accidents. Richardson wanted to help these victims. Beyond his father, the family doctor at a downtown Anoka clinic and a local surgeon at Mercy Hospital that he met while in high school were key mentors.
To achieve his dream, he first attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth for his undergraduate degree and then the University of Minnesota Medical School. Next, he completed his residency training in surgery at HCMC, received a fellowship in surgical critical care at HCMC and a fellowship in renal transplant at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.
What Richardson finds most rewarding about his job is that he strives to help people whose lives are on the line “get back to functioning in society” after they go through a trauma whether it be a car accident or a shooting. Most patients admitted to the HCMC Trauma Center were in car accidents, according to Richardson.
Although Richardson oversees all aspects of the trauma center from patient treatment to training for medical professionals, he will continue to be an active trauma and general surgeon as well the man he is replacing as director, Dr. Arthur Ney, who chose to step down from the director post after 24 years. Richardson has been serving as assistant director since 2008.
The American College of Surgeons requires each trauma center to have one of the surgeons oversee the day-to-day work.
“Dr. Richardson is well-prepared to lead us in the years ahead,” said Dr. Mark Odland, chief of surgery at HCMC. “He’s an outstanding surgeon who is focused on delivering the best patient care possible for our trauma patients.”
In his first year as director in 1989, Ney led the charge to HCMC becoming the first verified Level 1 trauma center in the state.
Today, there are three other Level 1 trauma centers in the state at Regions in St. Paul, North Memorial in Robbinsdale and St. Mary’s at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, according to the American College of Surgeons.
Patient volume, having surgeons and equipment for specific procedures not provided in other trauma centers and educational outreach to the medical community and public are factors the American College of Surgeons explores before determining whether it is a Level 1 or Level 2 trauma center, according to Richardson.
There are 10 surgeons trained in trauma care on staff and 16 other surgeons for other specialities from neurosurgery to plastic surgery. HCMC brings in paramedics and trauma managers from all over the state for continuing education.
HCMC continually researches improvements in surgical techniques. It has made strides in treating gunshot and stab wounds, for example. It also has a substance abuse prevention program for patients, according to Richardson.
In the 17 years he has been in the medical field, the largest change has been government oversight, but Richardson said this has not been all bad because it creates standards.
For example, the Minnesota Department of Health developed a statewide trauma system in 2005. This system holds hospitals accountable for having the doctors and equipment they say they have on a 24-7 basis so that paramedics quickly know where to bring patients who need to be stabilized and treated.
Richardson said the American College of Surgeons verifies Level 1 and Level 2 trauma centers, while the Minnesota Department of Health verifies Level 3 and Level 4 centers.
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]