Trauma Patients Celebrate Life | News | Loyola Medicine
Friday, October 14, 2016

Loyola Trauma Patients Celebrate Life at Annual Reunion

Delfino Garcia is pictured at the event with his father, Dario Garcia, and Jeanne Mueller, RN, trauma coordinator.

Delfino Garcia is pictured at the event with his father, Dario Garcia, and Jeanne Mueller, RN, trauma coordinator.

MAYWOOD, IL – Delfino Garcia was exiting a bounce house at a neighborhood party when the 4-year-old fell headfirst onto the asphalt.

"He cracked his skull and his eyes were immediately swollen shut," said his mother, Beatrice Garcia, of Cicero, Illinois. Delfino was transferred from a community hospital to Loyola Medicine hours after the September, 2015 injury. "He needed specialized care and fast. I thank God every day for Loyola. He is completely recovered and is a normal, active, little boy."

The Garcias celebrated at Loyola University Medical Center's Big Save Barbecue on Saturday, October 8, 2016.

Patients who come to Loyola Medicine's Level 1 Trauma Center with such severe injuries are dubbed "Big Saves." More than 1,000 Loyola trauma patients and their families were invited to reunite with Loyola medical staff and share their survival stories at the sixth annual Big Save celebration. Tales of recovery this year from patients ages 4 to 67 included gunshot wounds, motorcycle crashes and falls from rooftops.

"You inspire us. You drive us on to keep doing what we do to help others," said Richard Gonzalez, MD, director of the division of trauma, surgical critical care and burns. "Together, we move forward and we make people better." 

Patients and their families shared more than hot dogs, hamburgers and cake. They also shared inspiring stories of survival and recovery.

Joe Olsen, 59, of Oak Park, Illinois, fell 20 feet from a rooftop. “I had recovered from cancer and, as a way of thanking God, was volunteering at my church doing repair work," he explained to the audience. “I smashed my face, broke my ribs and wasn't sure I was going to survive a major health crisis a second time. But I am here. My face had to be completely reconstructed and it took months of healing, but I am here.”

Magdalena Witkos, 40, of Elmwood Park, Illinois, fell from a third story balcony in March, 2015 and her injuries included extreme head trauma, a fractured pelvis and cracked ribs. “I am not only alive but am back to work and recently completed a 5K race, thanks to those I call the medical masters at Loyola,” said Ms. Witkos. "I recently renewed my CPR certification and I hope to save someone's life, just like Loyola saved mine."

Loyola's Level 1 Trauma Center is equipped to provide the most comprehensive emergency medical services to patients suffering traumatic injuries – car and motorcycle crashes, stabbings, athletic injuries, falls – using the most advanced, multidisciplinary treatment and specialized resources from a full team of medical professionals.

"Loyola has made an incredible commitment to offer the only Level 1 Trauma Center in the entire state of Illinois to be verified by the American College of Surgeons," said Dr. Gonzalez. "And you are the reason why." 

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.