Clinical Services & Team


Our Level II trauma center provides definitive trauma care regardless of the severity of the injury and serves as a regional tertiary referral center. Our highly trained trauma team has the specialized training, experience and equipment needed to sustain the most critically injured patients, and provides exceptional care through the trauma continuum: from the patient’s initial arrival to the Emergency Department, to the operating room and intensive care unit, and finally through the recovery phase, discharge and outpatient follow-up in our Trauma Clinic. Our clinical team is comprised of  trauma surgeons who are board certified in General Surgery and Surgical Critical Care.  Partnering with them are an elite group of Advance Practice Providers that assist in all phases of patient management. Subspecialists in Emergency Medicine, Orthopedic Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Neurosurgery, Anesthesiology, Thoracic Surgery, Interventional Radiology and others are always available as needed for the wide range of traumatic injuries seen in our community. The trauma surgeons also serve as consultants to other practitioners and clinical staff, as well as to the emergency medical services (EMS) community.


The Trauma Trust Acute Care Surgery Service (ACSS) provides comprehensive emergency general surgery services to patients with urgent or emergency surgical conditions at both St. Joseph Medical Center and Tacoma General Hospital.  This service is available 24/7/365 for emergency consultations as well as for referrals for elective surgical procedures.  All surgeons are Board-Certified in General Surgery and are assisted by our  Advance Practice Providers, and manage the care of the patient from hospital admission until discharge and follow up in the outpatient clinics at the Frank S. Baker Center (Tacoma General Hospital) and the Virginia Mason Franciscan Health /St. Joseph Medical Center. For elective surgical outpatient consults, please have the PCP referrals sent directly to the clinics.

Meet Our Surgeons:

  • Teresa D Bell, MD

    Dr Bell received her medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, TX, and completed her general surgery residency and her surgical critical care fellowship with the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. After her training she stayed in Tennessee where she advanced to the rank of Associate Professor of Surgery with the James H. Quillen College of Medicine and also directed the surgical intensive care unit at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Johnson City, TN. Dr Bell has been in Tacoma practicing acute care surgery and critical care since the inception of the Trauma Trust in 2000, and is board certified in General Surgery and Surgical Critical care. She has additional special interests in minimally invasive surgery as well as medical acupuncture, and is an avid cyclist, mountaineer, SCUBA diver and sailor.

  • Veronica Bustillo-Aruca, MD

    Dr Bustillo-Aruca graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Puerto Rico and went on to obtain her medical degree from the University of Maryland in Baltimore.  She then completed a general surgery residency with the Christiana Care Health System program in Newark, DE which was followed by a surgical critical care fellowship at the Christiana Care Hospital System in Wilmington, DE.  Prior to joining the Tacoma Trauma Trust Dr Bustillo-Aruca worked as a trauma and acute care surgeon in Las Vegas, NV.

  • Megan M Cecchini, MD

    Dr. Cecchini received her medical degree from West Virginia University School of Medicine. She completed her internship and residency in General Surgery at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, WA. She became board certified in General Surgery in 2016. She is currently an attending surgeon for the Trauma Trust Acute Care Surgery Service at both Tacoma General Hospital and St. Joseph Medical Center. Dr. Cecchini enjoys taking care of patients with acute surgical issues. Her outside interests include traveling, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and supporting local sports teams.

  • Jennifer L Hubbard, MD, FACS

    Dr. Hubbard is board certified in Surgery and Surgical Critical Care. She earned her medical degree and completed her General Surgery residency at Loma Linda University. During residency she also finished her Pediatric Surgery Research fellowship at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. She then completed her Critical Care fellowship at both the Medical College of Wisconsin and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.  Dr. Hubbard has offered her services in multiple third world countries as a medical and surgical volunteer. Her interests include Transfusion Medicine, the Complex Abdomen, and Surgical Education. She has experience as an Associate Professor of Surgery teaching medical students, residents, and Surgical Critical Care and Acute Care Surgery fellows.

  • Paul T Inouye, MD, FACS

    Dr. Inouye is board certified in General Surgery and Surgical Critical Care. Dr Inouye received a B.A. from Pomona College with a double major in International Relations and Biology. He then completed a Masters in Public Health at the University of California in Los Angeles at the Division of Epidemiology.  In 1990 he entered George Washington University School of Medicine where he received his medical degree. Dr. Inouye completed his general surgery residency at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland and another general surgery residency at Episcopal Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Inouye completed several fellowships as a research fellow for the American Cancer Society and Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Massachusetts.  He was a research student and technician for the Department of Pharmacology at UCLA.  He entered his surgical critical care fellowship at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey at Camden.

  • Ekaterina Knowlton, MD

    Dr. Knowlton received her medical degree from the University of Minnesota in 1993, and completed a surgical residency at the University of Washington in Seattle in 2000 as well as a 2 year research fellowship at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center through the University of Washington studying the genetic mechanics of breast cancer. She became a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 2001, and after 12 years of private practice started working for the Trauma Trust in 2012, joining the permanent staff in 2016. Dr. Knowlton enjoys minimally invasive, acute, trauma and palliative surgery, as well teaching and the outdoors. Her goal is to provide outstanding care in a straighforward, compassionate manner as part of a superb surgical team.

  • John K. Lam, MD

    Dr Lam obtained his medical degree from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, in Loma Linda, California.  He completed his General Surgery residency at the Wayne State University / Detroit Medical Center in Detroit, MI. and has since practiced as a trauma and acute care general surgeon in several major hospitals in California, including the Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Vacaville and Enloe Medical Center in Chico.  Dr lam is certified by the American Board of Surgery and is also an active ATLS and Bleeding Control instructor.

  • Jamison S. Nielsen, DO, MBA, FACS

    Dr Nielsen obtained his undergraduate degree in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle.  He obtained his medical degree from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences and completed his general surgery residency at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawai’i.  A Surgical Critical Care fellowship was then obtained at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, OR.  Dr Nielsen most recently completed a burn surgery preceptorship at the US Army Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio, TX.  He also obtained an MBA degree from the Rockhurst University Helzberg School of Management in Kansas City, MO.  He has distinguished himself with multiple military awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal and the Bronze Star Medal for his military service in the Middle East, to where he has been deployed as a trauma surgeon on multiple occasions.

  • David K. Patterson, MD

    David K. Patterson graduated from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He completed his surgical internship at the University of Oregon Health Sciences Center and his general surgery residency at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. He assisted in the development of the Trauma and the Dialysis Vascular Access Surgery programs at San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center in Alamosa, CO. and the Acute Care Surgery Program at Trauma Trust. He is an attending trauma surgeon at Trauma Trust.

  • Paulesh Shah, MD

  • Lisa M. Schomogyi, MD, FACS

    Dr. Lisa Schomogyi received her medical degree from the University of California at Irvine. She completed her general surgery internship and residency at the University of Washington. Previously she has been a surgical attending physician for Indiana Surgical Specialists and Three Rivers Surgical Associates in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1994 she became a Fellowof the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Schomogyi currently is an attending surgeon for Trauma Trust’s Acute Care Surgery Service.

  • Cabrini L Sutherland, MD, M.P.H.

    Dr. Cabrini LaRiviere Sutherland grew up in Western Washington and completed her undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. She attended medical school at Ross University School of Medicine in the Caribbean, on the beautiful island of Dominica. After receiving her MD, she trained in Trauma and General Surgery at Louisiana State University in New Orleans, LA. During residency she returned home to complete two years of research at Seattle Children’s Hospital and earned her Master’s in Public Health at the University of Washington. During her research she focused on surgical best practices, clinical safety and outcomes, and improving quality of surgical care. She completed her fellowship training at the University of Michigan in Surgical Critical Care and returned to the Northwest to practice.  Dr. Sutherland is Board Certified in General Surgery and Surgical Critical Care

  • Long D. Tran, MD, FACS

    Dr. Tran received his medical degree from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, NJ. He completed his general surgery residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He completed his Surgical Critical Care Fellowship at the University of Connecticut Hartford Hospital. Dr. Tran is Board Certified in General Surgery and Surgical Critical Care and is an attending physician on the Trauma and Acute Care Surgery services.

  • Caesar M. Ursic, MD, FACS

    Dr Ursic is the Medical Director of the Trauma Trust. He received a B.S. in Biology/Chemistry from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX and his Medical degree from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX. He completed his General Surgery residency with the University of California San Francisco at Fresno, and a Surgical Critical Care fellowship at the Boston University Medical Center. He has served as Trauma Medical Director at several trauma centers including, the Alameda County Medical Center in Oakland, CA, the St. George Public Hospital in Sydney, Australia, and most recently the Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, HI. Dr. Ursic is Board Certified in General Surgery and in Surgical Critical Care.

Meet our elite team of Advanced Practice Providers:

Mary Benefield, ARNP
Shi Chian Khor, PA-C
Christopher Boeger, PA-C
Jamie Lines, PA-C
Chrystal Buchanan, PA-C
Ralph Mitchell, PA-C
Aaron Clancy, PA-C
Dawn Reynolds, PA-C
Elliott Collins, PA-C
Anna Sorrell, PA-C
Tiffany Crabb, PA-C
Randy Templeton, PA-C
Katrina Flowers-Piercy, PA-C
Heather Templin, ARNP
Kristy Francis, ARNP
Tyler Truskoski, PA-C
Ken Hyde, PA-C
Jody Veatch-Janin, PA-C
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