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LVHN Honors Trauma Survivors, First Responders and Healers

Annual event at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg recognizes lifesaving actions

Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) celebrated National Trauma Survivors Day on Wednesday, May 15 with a ceremony recognizing recovered patients and the chain of people responsible for saving the lives of the critically injured.

“It’s important to recognize not only the strength and resilience of our trauma patients, but the entire chain of survival from emergency first responders to doctors, nurses and all the hospital staff who spring into action at a moment’s notice,” says Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Muhlenberg trauma surgeon Joseph Stirparo, MD, one of the program speakers. “It’s gratifying for all of us to have a hand in saving lives.”

Four trauma patients were recognized Wednesday.

“In a larger sense, they represent all trauma patients who come through the doors at LVHN,” says Bree Harrison, manager of the adult trauma program at LVH–Muhlenberg. “It’s a night to celebrate everyone involved and the world-class care that makes it happen.”

“It’s important to recognize not only the strength and resilience of our trauma patients, but the entire chain of survival from emergency first responders to doctors, nurses and all the hospital staff who spring into action at a moment’s notice.” - Joseph Stirparo, MD

Patients recognized Wednesday were:

Filip Vydra – Many trauma patients who arrive at LVHN facilities are severely injured and require immediate, lifesaving care. But only one in a hundred are so badly hurt that they are designated as Code Omega: Unless they get to the operating room immediately, they will die.

Vydra was an Omega, critically injured when his motorcycle slammed into an SUV. He had a traumatic brain injury, spine fractures, a lacerated kidney, extensive pelvic fractures, internal bleeding and many broken bones. The trauma team at LVH–Muhlenberg had a whole lot to do and little time to do it. There were numerous surgeries and a long time in the intensive care unit (ICU), but Vydra is doing great.

Karen Benjamin – One moment, Benjamin and her husband were taking a Labor Day hike near a majestic waterfall in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and the next they were lying seriously injured at the bottom of a 30-foot embankment.

Benjamin had severe facial trauma, a head injury, broken ribs and a compound fracture of the leg. She was losing blood and was losing consciousness. Thankfully, another hiker came along and found Benjamin and her husband, then walked a mile to get cell service and call 911. Benjamin was airlifted to LVH–Muhlenberg.

Beverly Looker – Looker was on her daily walk with her husband last April when they started crossing Jacksonville Road in Bethlehem and were hit by a car. She was rushed to the trauma center at LVH–Muhlenberg with significant head injuries, including multiple brain bleeds. Doctors operated to relieve the pressure on her brain, and she was in a coma for three weeks.

Her caregivers were concerned that she may not be able to talk or walk again, or care for herself. Those concerns grew the longer she remained unconscious. But Looker exceeded expectations. Having completed speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy in about a year, she is walking with a cane and eager to get back to her daily walks.

Kimberly Camacho – A nursing student, Camacho was headed home with her mom last May after they both helped chaperone the prom at the high school where her mom worked. Camacho faded off to sleep as her mom drove home. Her next memory is when their car collided with a box truck. They had crossed into the oncoming lane.

She was taken to LVH–Pocono where she was stabilized, then airlifted to LVH–Muhlenberg for further treatment for severe internal injuries. Her road to recovery was long, but her experience made her want to be an ICU nurse – at LVH–Muhlenberg. We worked to get her back to nursing school and we’re proud to say she’s going to be working in the LVH–Muhlenberg ICU after graduation.

LVH–Muhlenberg trauma surgeon Katy Wheel, MD, kicked off Wednesday’s program. “A Japanese proverb says: Fall seven times and stand up eight,” Dr. Wheel says. “That’s perseverance. It’s our doctors and surgeons and nurses and a whole host of LVHN caregivers saying we will not give up on you.

“It’s our trauma patients fighting sometimes tremendous odds and putting their lives in our hands. It’s those injured people summoning spirit and strength they never knew they had. It’s talent, technology and leading-edge medicine creating modern-day miracles. It’s saving lives against the odds.”

Trauma Care

You can expect high-level trauma care at Lehigh Valley Health Network's accredited trauma centers located in eastern Pennsylvania.

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