They all worked together and it was one amazing thing after another…now I can walk.
“They all worked together and it was one amazing thing after another…now I can walk.” – Rachel Steimla, orthopedic trauma patient
On August 2, 2014, Rachel Steimla’s life changed forever. It was 1:30 in the afternoon and she, her son, and her uncle were headed to the store a half mile from her house. Suddenly, another driver went through two lanes of traffic and turned right into them. Rachel was sitting in the passenger seat and took a direct hit. She put her hands up to protect her face as the dashboard closed in on her legs.
Through the glass and pain, Rachel handed her son her cell phone and told him to call 911. When the Life EMS ambulance arrived, she insisted she and her son be taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital’s Level I Trauma Center. Her family doctor is Zebi Naz, MD at Bronson LakeView Family Care – Paw Paw (Suite A) and Rachel thought it would be best to keep all her care at one place – Bronson. While Rachel was in the ambulance, she could feel her legs but couldn’t move them. Her friends and family worried she might not survive. The first responders called ahead to the hospital and activated the trauma team. There was a trauma surgeon ready and waiting for Rachel to arrive.
The team quickly assessed Rachel and the trauma surgeon ordered pain medications, requested several lab tests, X-rays, and a magnetic resonance image (MRI). He consulted with other specialists to review her injuries so they could work together to determine the best plan of care. Robert Gorman III, MD, an orthopedic trauma surgeon at Bronson HealthCare Midwest Orthopedic Trauma, Foot & Ankle Specialists, was on call that day and worked closely with the trauma surgeon to review the X-rays and test results since most of Rachel’s injuries were broken bones.Amy Woznick, MD, FACS, a hand surgeon at Bronson HealthCare Midwest Hand & Elbow Specialists, was also contacted for her expertise.
Rachel dozed off. When she woke up, she was confused. The trauma team explained that she had broken her toes, feet, left leg, both sides of her pelvis, four ribs, left hand, fingers, wrist and arm. Everything was bruised, including her lungs, and there were scars up and down both arms and legs. She was in a sling in the Trauma Care Unit because she couldn’t sit up or move on her own. It was possible she would not walk again and, at the time, she could not feed herself or brush her own hair.
Trauma surgeons Sheldon Maltz, MD, FACS, MS and Jon Walsh, MD, FACS, MPH oversaw and coordinated Rachel’s care for the next six days while she was in the intensive care unit. Rachel expresses, “Everything was all connected. It was amazing! I went from one doctor to the other and they all had my information, bloodwork and X-rays. There were so many people involved, I thought something would get lost or forgotten, but no. They were completely on top of things. I couldn’t have had any more thorough care. They all worked together and it was one amazing thing after another.”
The staff on the Trauma Care Unit explained everything to Rachel…over and over. Rachel says each time she woke up she didn’t remember anything so the staff would patiently review what was happening. One nurse in particular squeezed Rachel’s feet each time she came in to the room to remind Rachel that they were still there and help her feel more at ease.
Rachel’s husband, family and friends were also at the hospital. They asked everyone who came in to sign a card to help Rachel remember who visited. Rachel was determined to get back to her life and go out the same door she came in.
Just six days after a serious car accident, Rachel was well enough to go to a rehabilitation center. Thirteen days later Dr. Woznick did surgery on Rachel’s wrist. Rachel’s recovery was going so well that she was able to leave the rehabilitation center on September 11.
Rachel met with Dr. Gorman for a follow-up appointment. He noticed her pelvis had shifted and might need surgery. Jason Roberts, MD, another orthopedic trauma surgeon at Bronson HealthCare Midwest Orthopedic Trauma, Foot & Ankle Specialistswas asked to review the case. After additional consults and X-ray reviews, it was decided that Dr. Roberts would do the extensive pelvic surgery.
Rachel had the pelvic surgery on her 37th birthday, September 29. Soon after Rachel could do “all these amazing and wonderful things” like walk short distances, do dishes and laundry, and go to the bathroom on her own. Her husband goes with her to every single follow-up appointment and continues to tell the doctors how much he appreciates them. The physicians and midlevel providers went over, step-by-step, how to adjust their house so Rachel could go home. She and her family are grateful for the great rapport the doctors have with each other and with them. They commend their patience, understanding and compassion.
Rachel says, “Now I can walk, feed myself, care for myself, and, for the most part, do what it was I could do before. With every doctor’s appointment, I’m that much closer to where I was before. This is better than anything I could have ever asked for! I really do believe it was the fact that they [Bronson’s team] were so on top of everything and so careful with everything that I honestly think that’s why I am where I am now.”
To learn more about Rachel’s story and trauma care at Bronson, visit bronsonpositivity.com/trauma.