The following is a guest op-ed from Dawn Bowman, a family member of a trauma patient who was treated at Ocala Regional Medical Center’s trauma facility and an associate publisher for Village Neighbors.
Last week, I drove to Tallahassee to support legislation being considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee and now that the legislation is moving to the full Florida Senate I wanted to share my family’s story. This past December, my family was faced with this pain when my cousin was severely injured after his motorcycle collided with a truck. Unbeknownst to our family, he was in a coma without any identification after his jacket with his license was cut off of his body at the scene. After it was clear he was missing, his wife Regina called around the area looking for individuals who had been in a motorcycle accident – and was fortune enough to find him alive, but in a coma, at the Ocala Regional Trauma Center.
Location matters for the patient, but it also matters for the family. I believe that John is here today because of the excellent care he received, but that he knew we were there with him. Each day, supporting him, telling him we love him and it would have been much harder for our family if he was over 40 miles away to the next closest trauma center in Gainesville.
Not only was the care provided exceptional – with skilled surgeons and staff – but because of the close proximity to our home we were able to have Christmas dinner at the hospital. While this may seem like a minor detail but because John was in a coma we had a family member by his side around the clock and being there, together, was so important. The support system provided by families whose loved ones were also being treated at Ocala Regional helped us make it through the most difficult of days. Can you imagine not knowing if your loved one would survive? It was the support of families, having dinner, crying together, hugging one another, and sharing stories that helped us make it through. Complete strangers pulled together as a community.
There is no doubt in my mind that John’s life was saved largely due to the fact that the trauma center at Ocala Regional was close by and John was received by the exceptional staff shortly after his accident. Unfortunately, not all Floridians are as fortunate as John and many must travel long distances to receive treatment at a trauma care center.
The horrible incidents in Boston and Texas serve as unfortunate reminders that anyone can be a victim of a traumatic injury, but more importantly that everyone deserves immediate access to trauma care.
Over the next week, the Florida Legislature has the opportunity to increase access to trauma care throughout Florida by simply removing the red-tape from the process by allowing hospitals in the state that meet the national American College of Surgeons’ standards to receive Level II trauma center certification.