'I would not want my child to go anywhere else,' says Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Trauma Nurse
When Amy got the call that every parent dreads, her training and experience as a pediatric trauma nurse at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital – and her faith in her colleagues – kept her calm.
Amy's son, Jason, 8, suffered a head injury when he was struck by an SUV as he and his teenage sister walked home from school in Cooper City. When Amy got the phone call from her daughter, she could hear Jason "screaming and hollering" in the background.
While other parents might have panicked right then, "as a trauma nurse, I thought, 'that's good'," Amy says. "That means he's breathing on his own, he's moving and not paralyzed, he's feeling pain. I couldn't be just the mom. I had to be the trauma nurse."
Jason was flown by helicopter to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital where his mother and a specialized trauma team were waiting. In addition to the head injury, he had abrasions on his face and his right eye was swollen shut. The head injury made him combative and unable to follow commands.
"It took five of us to hold him down," Amy says.
In the pediatric emergency room, Jason underwent intubation, a procedure that requires a physician to insert a tube into the patient's airway to protect the airway from collapsing. Tests showed that Jason was suffering from a concussion. A CAT scan showed he had no bleeding in the brain, a critical factor in his recovery. And he had no broken bones. He stayed in the hospital overnight for observation and went home the next day.
For Amy, knowing her son was being treated by an experienced team of physicians and nurses helped to ease her fears.
"When he arrived at the ER, everybody was ready," she says. "Everybody was totally prepared. We treat every child who comes in as if they were our own. I was comfortable knowing he would be getting the best care. We have the most incredible trauma services, surgeons, and nurses. Our attending physicians are so good at what they do." The attending physician that afternoon was pediatric surgeon Julie Long, MD, Chief of Staff.
"When your child is injured or going through surgery, you are a nervous wreck," Amy says. "Dr. Long is very calming, very thorough, and to the point. She makes you feel safe. She lets you know exactly what you're dealing with. I would trust her with the life of my child."
"I know from 23 years of nursing experience that the quality of care, the level of staffing, and the experience and training of the staff at Joe DiMaggio is just phenomenal," says Amy, who joined the nursing team seven years ago. "We are constantly reviewing our practices, taking courses, updating our education. The physicians are up to speed with the newest procedures. Most of the nursing staff has extra certification and training specialized in pediatrics and trauma nursing."
The staff works with the parents to involve them in their child's care whenever possible and help relieve their anxiety. Parents are allowed into the room where their child is being treated, and a parent advocate is always available.
"The community is fortunate to have a place like this to go when their kids get sick," Amy said. "I would not want my child to go anywhere else."
She knows that now from firsthand experience.
Jason, the youngest of Amy's four children, has fully recovered from his injuries and is back playing tackle football, rollerblading, bike-riding, and swimming. He has no recollection of the accident or even the helicopter ride.
"He recovered beautifully," says Amy, who notes that the SUV that struck her son was traveling very slowly and that Jason landed on his backpack, helping to cushion his fall. "I thought, 'the guardian angel is here.' I have seen many head injuries and sometimes it's just how they fall and where they hit their head on the ground. This could have been horrific. We were blessed."
Facility: JDCH Specialty: Cardiology Last Name: Smith
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