NEW BEDFORD — Southcoast Health has announced plans to establish a Level II Trauma Center at St. Luke's Hospital.

Southcoast Health CEO Keith Hovan made the announcement at Southcoast Health's annual EMS provider breakfast. The breakfast is held every year to honor fire chiefs and other emergency medical service leaders.

According to a press release, a Level II trauma center is able to see any type of trauma patient, however, does not require to conduct research and include academic surgical residency programs. When completed, the trauma center will be able to provide more timely, critical access to exceptional trauma for patients in our region.

In order to become a Level II Trauma Center, many steps have to be taken and approved on by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health which can make for a lengthy process. St. Luke's Hospital has been actively searching for providers who can help lead the hospital to this goal. One key component to this effort will be newly recruited Chief of Trauma Surgery, Dr. Michael Grossman.

St. Luke’s Hospital will have to submit data to the National Trauma Data Bank and Massachusetts Department of Public Health regarding the treatment of trauma patients to be verified and accredited. The process will take 18 months to two years.

“The development of a Level II Trauma Center at St. Luke’s will continue our mission of providing world-class care close to home for our patients and communities here in Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island,” Hovan said.