VUMC celebrates trauma survivors and their care providersJun. 15, 2023, 8:08 AM
by Jill Clendening
Members of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Acute Care Surgery team, Trauma Intensive Care Unit, and former patients who recovered or individuals who are currently recovering from traumatic injuries recently gathered on the Medical Center’s Plaza for an annual celebration of National Trauma Survivors Day.
The day is part of a larger National Trauma Awareness Month, sponsored annually by the American Trauma Society in collaboration with the Society of Trauma Nurses. The event allows physicians, nursing staff and others on the care team to reconnect with survivors of traumatic injuries and celebrate their recovery.
“We have made it an annual tradition to have a festive event out on the Plaza between the hospital and Light Hall,” said event organizer Cathy Wilson, MSN, RN, outreach educator and coordinator for the Division of Acute Care Surgery. “This is not only for patients and former patients, but we also recognize and thank our trauma staff for their amazing dedication to our patients and to each other.”
Members of the Vanderbilt Trauma Survivors Network, a support group that offers resources for trauma survivors, their families and friends following a traumatic event, were invited. Also invited were trauma peer visitors, former trauma survivors who return to VUMC and visit patients with traumatic injuries to support them as they heal.
William Nolan is a trauma peer visitor who attended the event. In May 2020, he and his now-fiancée, Cassie Rooke, were hiking at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park when a storm caused a large tree to fall on them. Nolan and Rooke were treated for their injuries at VUMC, and Nolan would ultimately have his left arm amputated due to a brachial plexus injury.
“I was able to talk with a couple of patients who they were able to bring down to the Plaza,” Nolan said. “I talked to one fellow who had been in the hospital a few weeks. We shared a lot of the same interests, and he seemed super grateful to talk to me. It was also good to see a lot of the staff who took care of me. They remembered me, but I obviously didn’t remember them as well. It was nice to say thank you.”
This year, the theme of Trauma Awareness Month was roadway safety, and attendees were invited to put on “drunk goggles,” which have lenses that distort vision to create the disorientation and lack of coordination experienced by an intoxicated person. Participants then attempted to ride a large tricycle through a course.
“We’re thrilled our Vanderbilt Trauma Outreach Team could drive awareness on injury prevention efforts for the 35th anniversary of National Trauma Awareness Month, originally established by the U.S. Congress and the American Trauma Society,” said Mayur Patel, MD, MPH, chief of the Division of Acute Care Surgery.
When patients leave the Medical Center for home or to receive additional therapy elsewhere, their care providers who spent weeks or months nursing them back to health often never see them again. The Trauma Survivors Day event gives everyone a nice opportunity to catch up with each other, Wilson said.
“It is always thrilling to see patients return to see us since we often don’t get follow-up on how they are doing once they leave us,” she said.