Editor’s note: The following is a guest post from Dereck Welch, a trauma survivor who currently resides in the Ocala community with his family.
Ocala Regional Medical Center’s Trauma Awareness day and National Trauma Awareness Month in May was stark reminder for me of the importance to quick access to quality trauma care and with the recent tragic events where trauma care was essential I become even more impassioned to advocate for more trauma centers here in the state of Florida. When I think about these incidents, such as the Boston Marathon Bombing and the tornados in Oklahoma City, it makes so clear to me what trauma victims go through and I remember my own trauma incident where I almost lost my life and how am eternally thankful I am for the trauma staff at Ocala Regional Medical Center.
What has been deeply disappointing for me is learning about the self-interested campaign other hospitals in the area, like Munroe Regional, Shands at the University of Florida and Shands Jacksonville, have waged against ORMC by filing lawsuits that would essentially shut its trauma center’s doors all because they want to pad their pockets. To those hospitals, I say, shame on you. To these hospitals, I say, I owe my life to ORMC. I am dumbfounded that hospitals that are supposed to put patients’ lives first and foremost, are wasting taxpayers’ money on lawsuits to retain a monopoly on trauma care.
Let me tell you my story: I had a splenic artery aneurism. Before the ambulance came my blood pressure was 70/30 and while I was in the ambulance on the way to ORMC, I died and the EMT that night was able to bring me back to life. Once I arrived at ORMC, I was received by a fantastic trauma team lead by Dr. Darwin Ang and Dr. Alejandro Garcia.
While I was on the operating table at ORMC, I died again when my heart completely stopped. The trauma doctors performed CPR that broke my ribs but restarted my heart and again saved my life. After having my heart stop twice and undergoing surgery, I was placed in ICU to recover on a ventilator and tubes coming out of my nose and the side of my neck. And while I no longer have a spleen and part of my pancreas, but I have my life. The service and care of the staff at ORMC also goes beyond the initial surgery. I was in the hospital for nearly a month recovering from this traumatic day and the same two doctors, Dr. Ang and Dr. Garcia, stayed with me until the day I was discharged. Having a close nearby trauma center was also a blessing to my wife and family who wanted to be by side every day. The closeness of loved ones is essential to recovery.
My story is just one of the many lives the trauma staff at Ocala Regional has saved since the opening of its trauma center. I live today to tell my story. I understand all too well the sacredness of human life and no hospital bickering should stand in the way of that, yet they are trying to do just that. It’s wrong and I hope their board members and the community will stand up for what is right and that’s access to trauma care for all of our state’s residents.
It upsets me that recent lawsuits have made trauma care in our community less about saving lives and more about the money that comes from monopolizing the trauma care market. My life is an example of what good Ocala Regional can provide to our community. I hope the trauma center at ORMC is allowed to stay open and operational so others in my community are able to benefit from this state-of-the-art trauma center and its caring, professional staff.