“We were a part of the Bronson trauma unit, and they were a part of us.”
“We were a part of the Bronson trauma unit, and they were a part of us.” – Andy Frantz, patient’s dad
Andy Frantz did not hesitate when he received a phone call saying his daughter, Abbey, age 25, was involved in a terrible car accident. He immediately left home to pick up his wife Shelly and received another phone call en route to let him know Abbey was going to be air lifted to Kalamazoo to Bronson Methodist Hospital, the area’s only Level I Trauma Center. Andy and Shelly went straight to Bronson’s emergency department (ED) and were escorted to a private waiting room. There, they could only wait and watch the news as it took emergency responders more than an hour to get Abbey out of the vehicle.
“We didn’t actually see Abbey for seven or eight hours after she arrived at the trauma center,” said Andy. “However staff provided constant updates and told us exactly how it was.”
On November 24, 2015, the day of the accident, Abbey had a tube placed in her right chest and a left-arm fasciotomy (procedure to improve blood flow). The following day, she had exploratory surgery on her stomach, surgery on her pelvis, and her left arm was amputated. In addition to care from the entire trauma team, Abbey had care from several other specialties including orthopedics, neurosurgery, vascular surgery and interventional radiology.
“Pelvic fractures are life threatening injuries. They can cause massive internal bleeding so stabilizing the bones is important,” said Dr. Jason Roberts, orthopedic trauma surgeon. “On the other hand, major invasive surgery to repair any fractures may not be safe right away when the patient has numerous life threatening injuries like Abbey did. When Abbey arrived, trauma surgeon Dr. Scott Davidson performed surgery for the abdomen while I stabilized the pelvic fractures with screws and pins using minimally-invasive techniques under X-ray guidance. After Abbey recovered a little more from her initial injuries, it was safe to return to the operating room for a more invasive surgery.
“I could have given the Daisy award to every single one of the nurses,” shared Andy. “Everybody genuinely cared for Abbey and we fell in love with the team. We brought in photos of Abbey and our family and placed them all around her room so everybody got to know her. I even brought in little green G.I. Joes and would hide them in Abbey’s room for the nurses to find. People would pop in and check on her even when they didn’t need to.”
Andy, being a retired law enforcement officer, paid close attention to everything – even outside of Abbey’s room. He noticed how good the security team was, how meticulous the housekeeping staff kept the hospital and how welcoming the receptionist was at the front desk. He noted that nobody missed a beat.
Abbey spent eight weeks in the trauma unit fighting to recover. Her family stayed close at hand throughout her hospital stay and actually hosted Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas in the trauma waiting room. Family and friends would often stop by to show their support at any given hour – sometimes even at 3 a.m. Andy says as he recalled all the time they spent in the hospital, “It was the worst eight weeks of my life and the best eight weeks of my life. Everybody took care of us while they also took care of Abbey – [Bronson] was amazing; they saved my daughter’s life.”
“Abbey’s injuries required the expertise of multiple medical teams and numerous surgeries,” said Dr. Roberts. The Bronson trauma team and the resources of the Level I trauma center were critical to make this possible.”
Now, Abbey is home after spending many weeks in rehabilitation at Mary Free Bed. Even though she still has a long road for recovery, she has made great progress.
“She lost her arm and currently, her ability to walk, but she didn’t lose her sense of humor. She makes everybody feel special,” Andy describes.