When Dan Meyer was injured in a car crash, the odd were against him.
“The drunk driver was doing some estimated speed of 75 miles per hour and didn’t even touch his brakes.”
But one thing was working in his favor, the close proximity to a Level II Trauma Center.
“Trauma center is actually something that’s designated by the state and there’s very strict criteria as to what kind of emergency would qualify as a trauma,” says Dr. Nelayda Fonte, a trauma surgeon with Lee Memorial Health System.
Trauma alerts are generally made by first responders when someone is severely injured. Under state law, trauma centers are required to have a specific number of trauma certified specialists ready at all times.
“We have to have 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, 365 days a year trauma surgeon availability, neurosurgical availability, operating rooms with anesthesiologists,” says Dr. Fonte.
They share the same building, but a trauma center is not the same as the hospital emergency room. The trauma center is a designated spot within the hospital reserved to handle emergencies that require speed, because it could be the difference between life and death.
“It has become such a well-oiled machine where everybody needs to do their job do it quickly and do it efficiently so that we can maximize the benefit to the patient and decrease mortality,” says Dr. Fonte.
Lee Memorial Hospital is home to the only trauma center in Southwest Florida. It’s a fully equipped, two bed unit.
“Actually this room can expand out to four and most of the time with the multi-traumas we will basically take over this entire section,” says Dr. Fonte.
Many trauma patients have no memory of being here.
“I woke up ten days later. So I don’t recall any of that,” says Meyer.
But the trauma center was here when they needed it most.