Juan Diaz thanks his trauma doctors at Kaiser Permanente at a reception for trauma survivors.

Patients are stretchered into Kaiser Permanente’s trauma center in Vacaville for all kinds of harrowing reasons. Auto and bicycle collisions happen every day in Solano County, and it’s the everyday work of the doctors there to patch folks back together from some of the most dire medical situations imaginable.

So it was nice, for a change, to see some of those paitents walk back in on their own power to say “thanks”.

Kaiser Permanente hosted a reception for trauma survivors Thursday evening, giving six survivors and their families a chance to meet with some of the doctors and nurses who set them on their road to recovery.

Amy Brammer, trauma program director, said the event was an incredible chance to see the progress that their patients had made since leaving.

“We see them come in in terribly injured and critical condition …” she said. “Sometimes they spend a month with us.”

And that month or so is generally spent piecing back together the basics and setting full recovery on the distant horizon, Brammer said. Seeing those patients come back, further along in their journey or fully recovered, is an incredible boost for the team.

When you deal with such scary, life-and-death situations every day in a trauma ward. she said, morale is key.

“You just can’t keep filling your bucket with sad all the time,” she said.

Seeing their patients return helps give the staff the courage and power to go on, Brammer said, and it’s humbling to know that they are a small piece of the puzzle in their recovery.

Darryl Curry, senior vice president at Kaiser Permanente, thanked all of the staff of the trauma ward.

“I just want to express my appreciation for all of you, and for all you do,” he said.

Curry also asked for a moment of silence for those unable to attend.

Executive physician Christopher Walker said for the people who had worked in this trauma since its beginning, this was a momentous occasion.

“When we put it together there was a need in this area,” he said, “there wasn’t really a trauma center between UC Davis and John Muir.”

With a huge stretch of I-80 running between those two places, he said the need for a trauma center was evident. Since it began, he said, the center has been a vital part of the area’s healthcare landscape.

“It’s hard to imagine it now not being here,” he said.

William Bandy, a trauma surgeon, said it was great to see the fruits of the team’s efforts.

“Really, it’s an honor to have been able to care for all of the patients here,” he said, “and it’s a blessing to be able to see everyone again.”

Each patient, Brammer said, is given an injury severity score from 1-75, ranking the severity of their injury. Every patient who returned was ranked above a 16, which is considered “critical.”

Robin Reidel, for instance, was a patient who came back to thank the team after hitting a boulder on his mountain bike and bursting a ventricle in his heart. His ISS score was 26.

‘We are not a cardio thorasic facility,” Brammer said, “but we were that day.”

Juan Diaz, a patient in May of 2019, was given an ISS of 57 after a massive automobile accident. He stayed for 33 days, and since leaving the hospital has had a daughter who would never have been born if he hadn’t survived.

Diaz said his recovery was difficult, but not as difficult as it was on his family, who filled the waiting rooms and hallways of Kaiser Permanente to wait and see if he would be OK.

“I just want to say that I’m really thankful that I’m here with you guys today,” he said, “because in 2019 I didn’t think I was going to make it.”

Ian Ewing, who was hospitalized with a maximum ISS score of 75, stayed at the facility for 38 days after a motorcycle accident. Ian’s father Bill said that Ian says the accident was the best thing that ever happened to him, because it helped him to stop making some poor choices.

“For the work that you do,” he said, “when you give somebody back their child, you can’t repay it.”


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