Op-ed: Access to trauma care helps trauma patients’ families, too

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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.

Trauma incidents are not limited to acts of terror or massive explosions.  Every day there are countless automobile accidents, natural disasters, or other acts of violence that threaten lives.  These incidents not only affect the victims, but also the friends and loved ones of those injured.  The affect is in the form of overwhelming emotional pain that comes with not knowing whether or not a mother, husband, best friend, or son will live to see another day.

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.

Every day, my family is thankful that John had a better chance of survival because he had local access to a trauma care.  Our legislators can increase survival chances for all Floridians’ by pushing forward with trauma care legislation that puts families like mine first.  I don’t know anyone who can be against that.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.