Lee Health honors former patients on National Trauma Survivors Day

Reporter: Emma Heaton
Published: Updated:

Gulf Coast Medical Center is the only trauma center between Sarasota and Miami, and on Wednesday, former patients came together in honor of National Trauma Survivors Day.

The trauma unit doctors and nurses at Gulf Coast Medical center wear shirts every day that read “Trauma Step Down: Prepared for the Challenge of the Unexpected…

They are simple reminders to always be ready for the challenge of the unexpected.

That’s because what happened to nearly every trauma survivor in this room was unexpected

Former patient Rose McGahee said, “I left the house one night to hang out with friends and I didn’t make it home, and I woke up in hospital. Two weeks later my family had to tell me what was going on.”

McGahee was involved in a car crash when she was 19 years old and was told she would never be able to walk again.

She joined trauma therapy groups, and now she helps other survivors like Brandon Lally.

At 63-years-old, Lally found out there was a tumor festering in his brain.

He said he apparently had it since birth, adding, “It’s craniopharyngioma. It consists of maternal cells. And it’s a pretty odd thing to have.”

Lally said he doesn’t remember much of his time in the trauma unit. “The pain was mostly my heart. From the things I can no longer do.”

Lally can no longer sail or teach but more importantly, he said he gives thanks to doctors, nurses and surgeons at trauma centers.

Zach Hothem is a Gulf Coast Medical Center trauma surgeon. He said, “We rarely get to see people that have gone through the process and come out …  It can be a very lifelong process for these patients to overcome. Not only the physical trauma but the mental trauma.”

“It completes the circle of you know,” adds Bob Haynes, physician’s assistant.”To get to actually see them come back and see that they’re not just surviving, but doing well. It really means a lot.”

The trauma team works hand in hand with surgeons, nurses, doctors and therapists to provide ongoing care from the time patients hit the door until the time they are discharged.

After that point, Lee Health provides trauma groups for survivors to share their stories and hear from others who have been through the same experiences.

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