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Published on November 18, 2015

Don’t Meet Us By Accident

Spartanburg Medical Center Level I Trauma Center prepared for all injuries

Barbara Strain woke up and didn’t know where she was.

“I did not remember anything. I was very afraid,” she said. “I didn’t know where I was or why I was there.”

Barbara, 69, was airlifted to Spartanburg Medical Center’s (SMC) Level 1 Trauma Center following a serious accident half a mile from her home. A bale of hay fell off a truck onto her vehicle, which resulted in serious bodily injuries.

“They told me it was pretty bad. For a long time, I wasn’t sure what had happened. Little by little, it would come out and I would be amazed,” Barbara said. “Did this really happen? Was I really picked up by Regional One? Those things I didn’t remember.”

While the trauma team worked to save her, multiple physicians came to speak with Barbara’s family, including her daughters Leigh Ann Thompson and Melinda Lee.

“We’re just regular people,” Lee said. “I never dreamed that I would pull up and see a helicopter taking my mother to the hospital.”

Some of Barbara’s injuries include traumatic brain injury, a closed head injury, and a C1C2 fracture of her spine. SMC’s Level I Trauma Center is prepared to meet patients on their worst day and take care of those who are critically ill or injured.

“After she was brought in, a nurse circulated in several times to let us how things were going,” Thompson said. “Then multiple physicians came in to the family waiting area and sat down, and they started to tell us about her injuries.”

Barbara does not remember much about her care, but remembers hearing “you’re going to be okay,” repeatedly.

“When a doctor comes down the hall to meet you for the first time has tears in his eyes, you know that you’ve received the best care possible,” Barbara said. “They worked hard to keep me alive and did everything they could.”

Every trauma center is located in a hospital, but not every hospital has a trauma center. Spartanburg Medical Center’s Level I trauma center can meet many medical needs, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. The services encompass multiple specialties including emergency surgery, neuro-surgery, orthopedic surgery, vascular surgery, and plastic surgery. Trauma services are a multidisciplinary approach for traumatically injured patients.

“One thing we realize about trauma is that this happens to normal, everyday people,” said Brian Thurston, MD, director of Trauma Service at SMC. “We see ourselves in our patients and we really recognize that oftentimes our patients are meeting us on one of the worst days of their lives. We want to make sure that we are able to take care of them both competently and compassionately.”

Barbara’s daughters said they can never repay the trauma team for saving their mother’s life.

“The physicians were always kind, compassionate and always honest,” Thompson said. “I tell everybody that the trauma team will always be a part of our family now.”

About Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System

Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) offers a full spectrum of services through four hospitals: Spartanburg Medical Center, Pelham Medical Center, Spartanburg Hospital for Restorative Care and Union Medical Center. SRHS also includes Ellen Sagar Nursing Center, 113-bed long-term care, skilled nursing facility that offers nursing care and rehabilitation services. SRHS provides unparalleled oncological care through the Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute. The multidisciplinary Medical Group of the Carolinas has more than 300 physicians across seven counties in two states. SRHS employs nearly 6,000 associates and offers outpatient surgery centers, a vibrant post-acute division, a Level I Trauma Center, and Advicare, a licensed Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). Advicare provides Medicaid services to residents throughout the state of South Carolina. U.S. News and World Report ranked Spartanburg Medical Center the No. 1 regional hospital in South Carolina in 2014-15. The Commission on Cancer gave Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute its Outstanding Achievement Award.

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