More than half a dozen trauma survivors and their families gathered at Memorial Regional Hospital for a tearful reunion with medical staff, first responders and community partners.
The event, called Injury is No Accident: 25 Years of Making a Difference, served as a venue for former patients and families to share their support and stories, continue healing and say thanks to their caregivers. The event was held in honor of National Trauma Awareness Month.
“Trauma is the leading public health challenge of our lifetime,” said Andrew Rosenthal, MD, Medical Director of Memorial Healthcare System’s Division of Trauma Services. “Trauma is the greatest cause of death and disability for our children and young adults. Today is about coming to terms with their experience, what can we do about it, and healing.”
The program gave patients a look at the many departments and reunited them with staff who touched their lives in the aftermath of their accidents. It also brought to light some of the programs that Memorial staff participate and partner in to promote safety in the community.
“We want to prevent injury, continue to do research and share ways to help community members in a time of need while first responders reach them,” said Candace Pineda, Admin Director of Trauma and Acute Care Coordinator of the Division of Trauma. “The reason we are here is to share with you that trauma is a preventable disease. Whether it’s wearing a seatbelt, paying more attention to our surroundings or taking part in our various community programs like Stop the Bleed, we can do a better job at preventing trauma.”
Survivor Megan Hobson, 22, said she is grateful for her dream team of physicians and nurses.
“This is where I started, but it is not where I ended,” she said. “Being a survivor is hard work and I thank everyone who took care of me for allowing me to be here today. I am dedicated to supporting the work of trauma and ending gun violence.”
Hobson, from Hialeah, was injured in 2012 in a drive-by shooting. She was shot through her pelvis with an AK-47 while sitting in her sister’s car. She was 17 at the time. She shielded a toddler from gunfire. Since then, she is a survivor turned activist and is featured on the cover of a critically acclaimed photography book called “Shot.”
For Spencer Whittle, 26, his message was simple.
“I was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said. “I was shot seven times. As I stand here today, I realize this hospital has to be blessed because somehow or another miracles happen here and I thank them for all that they do to save lives like mine.”
Florida Coast Guard member Alexander Holmes, 20, was not injured in the line of duty but rather by an accidental gunshot wound to his chest caused by his friend during target practice. The room chuckled momentarily as he and his family waved warmly to the Intensive Care Unit nursing staff standing at the back of the room and as his mother Frida expressed her gratitude.
“I can’t begin to explain the gratitude I have for the physical patience that the trauma and ICU team have for a shocked mom who all of a sudden had a medical degree and wanted to know everything that they were doing to my son to save his life,” she said.
Among other survivors were some whose injuries made local headlines. They include those injured by gunshots, car crashes, falls and fires.
Joining the celebration was Florida Senator Lauren Book, who addressed the crowd and shared her passion for the trauma staff and community outreach programs developed to help the community help each other in times of need.
“Today is such an important day, and I am so excited to be a part of this today” she said. “We wake up knowing it’s going to be a great day. Then a bridge collapses, a car accident takes place or a shooting occurs and we are so very lucky to have the care we need by trauma staff available at any time. Today is important because we are celebrating those who do so much for our community for all that they do prevent loss of life with Stop the Bleed.”
Memorial Regional Hospital is one of only seven Level 1 trauma centers statewide, treating the most serious, life-threatening injuries. It is the busiest Emergency Department in Broward County.
Both Memorial Regional and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital just recently received national verification by the American College of Surgeons as Level 1 Adult and Level 2 Pediatric Trauma Centers the first in Broward County to receive national designation. The dedicated State and Nationally Verified Level 1 trauma center and team sees more than 3,000 trauma patients annually. Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Zeff Ross, FACHE was recently appointed to the Florida Trauma System Advisory Council.