The Saint John Regional Hospital has been ranked No. 1 in New Brunswick's new trauma system, meaning it will now take the province's most seriously ill and injured patients.

Health Minister Mike Murphy released details of the government's trauma system in Fredericton on Wednesday.

Eighteen hospitals across the province have been assigned a designated trauma level. Hospitals in Sackville, Oromocto and Lameque opted to be excluded from the trauma system.

Each of the hospitals was ranked on a scale of one to five. A ranking of one indicates the hospital has the ability to address the most urgent health needs while five means the hospital is able to treat and stabilize less injured patients.

"The trauma level designation recognizes the level of service each hospital provides and will ensure patients are sent to the nearest facility able to provide the care they need," Murphy said.

The rankings were established in conjunction with the members of each of the province's regional health authorities, who assessed their own facilities based on Trauma Association of Canada guidelines.

The language capabilities of each institution, its geographic location, and its ability to provide the services needed to handle multi-trauma cases were factors considered in the rankings.

The designations were reviewed by a provincial trauma system committee made up of Dennis Furlong, a former provincial health minister, and senior medical officials from around the province.

Saint John Regional Hospital was the only institution to earn the level 1 designation. Moncton Hospital followed, with a level 2 ranking, meaning it will act in partnership with Saint John and take on any surplus caseload.

Saint John already has a nationally recognized trauma centre certification. Its new top designation in New Brunswick means it will become the co-ordinating centre for the provincial trauma system.

The new trauma network will include an on-call list that will tell physicians what specialists are working and where, a trauma hotline and a registry of cases.

Ten hospitals have been designated level 5, meaning they are in rural areas and more serious injuries would be transferred to another centre after stabilization. The 10 hospitals are:

  • Stella-Maris-de-Kent Hospital in Ste-Anne-de-Kent
  • Charlotte County Hospital in St. Stephen
  • Grand Manan Hospital
  • Sussex Health Centre
  • Hotel-Dieu of St. Joseph in Perth-Andover
  • Upper River Valley Hospital in Waterville
  • Tobique Valley Hospital in Plaster Rock
  • Grand Falls General Hospital
  • Hotel-Dieu of Saint-Quentin
  • Tracadie-Sheila Hospital.

No hospitals were ranked at level four and six regional hospitals were assessed at level 3. These hospitals are equipped to deal with most severe health issues but would likely transfer patients to Moncton or Saint John if they had major trauma.

The six hospitals are:

  • Dr. Georges L. Dumont Regional Hospital in Moncton
  • Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton
  • Edmundston Regional Hospital
  • Campbellton Regional Hospital
  • Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst
  • Miramichi Regional Hospital.