Trauma Center

20 Years of Lifesaving Care at the Trauma Center

20 Years of Lifesaving Care at the Trauma Center
“There are no age limits in the Trauma Center we treat a cross section of the population, really from pre- birth to death,” says Dr. Fonte.

For 20 years, the Trauma Center has been a vital venue for lifesaving care not just for Lee County, but for all of Southwest Florida. Trauma surgeon Nelayda Fonte, D.O., has been with the Trauma Center for 18 years and has witnessed, firsthand, the value the center brings to our community.

Trauma can affect anyone and everyone, Dr. Fonte says. There are no age limits in the Trauma Center we treat a cross section of the population, really from pre- birth to death. And, it is not just gunshot wounds and stabbings, which is a typical perception. The majority of the injuries we treat are blunt force traumas, like motor vehicle or bicycle accidents and falls. The other penetrating wounds occur, but much less often.

To ensure the best possible outcome and prevent death, traumatic injuries require prompt treatment within one hour, which is referred to as the golden hour. Specific protocols and cooperation across many systems, organizations and disciplines enables the lifesaving work at the Trauma Center.

Trauma truly is a team effort, Dr. Fonte says. It requires collaboration and cooperation between EMS, law enforcement, air crews, other hospitals and various teams of health professionals within the health system. One of the best things to happen in the history of the Trauma Center was the creation of the Trauma District in the early 2000s. That united the five counties served by the Trauma Center and solidified the synergy among various organizations. We couldn t do what we do, and care for approximately 2,300 people each year, without the support of the Trauma District.

There are myriad benefits of having a designated, full-service trauma center in our community, but many people don t think about it, until faced with a traumatic injury. The speed of care and the services and specialized care available make trauma centers vastly different from regular emergency departments, Dr. Fonte says. Mortality rates go from 20 percent to 7 percent when care is administered at a trauma center. Personally, I wouldn t live in a community that doesn t have a trauma center.

As the Trauma Center celebrates its 20th anniversary, Lee Memorial Health System and the Southwest Florida community honor the work and dedication of the entire team at the Trauma Center.

Trauma Center:

Traumatic injuries require a team effort, and there are specific requirements to be a designated trauma center.


  • Cardiology
  • Hematology
  • Infectious disease
  • Internal medicine
  • Nephrology
  • Pathology
  • Pediatrics
  • Pulmonary medicine
  • Radiology

Surgeons in the following specialties:

  • Neurosurgery
  • Obstetric/gynecological surgery
  • Ophthalmic surgery
  • Oral/maxillofacial surgery
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngologic surgery (ear, nose and throat)
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Plastic surgery
  • Thoracic surgery
  • Urologic surgery

Other team members:

The trauma team always includes:

  • Two trauma nurses
  • One respiratory technician
  • One radiology technician
  • One operating room nurse
  • One trauma surgeon
  • One emergency department physician
  • One case manager (social worker)
  • One emergency department technician
  • One trauma physician assistant

What is a Level II Trauma Center


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