When Accidents Happen, Seconds Count
About The Trauma Center
The Trauma Center at Lee Memorial Hospital is the only trauma center on Florida's Gulf Coast between Tampa and Miami. It is designated as a Level II Trauma Center by the state of Florida, since July 1994
The Trauma Center treats more than 2,000 patients per year and serves a five-county area: Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties.
Trauma victims are those patients who have received an injury that must be treated in a very narrow window of time in order for the patients to survive. Most often, these patients are victims of automobile accidents, falls, gunshots, stabbings or burns. For the greatest chances of survival, trauma victims must receive treatment within the "Golden Hour," or the first 60 minutes after receiving the injury.
A trauma center is not the same as a hospital emergency department. According to state law, trauma centers are required to have a certain number of trauma-certified physicians and surgeons on staff and on site 24 hours per day. Trauma centers must also have specific specialists and sub-specialists on-call at all times and these specialists must be able to respond to the trauma center within minutes of an emergency notification. In addition to specialized staff, trauma centers must have equipment specifically designed to care for trauma victims.
Lee Health Trauma Surgeons
- Ernst E. Vieux, M.D., F.A.C.S.
- Nelayda Fonte, D.O., F.A.C.O.S., F.I.C.S.
- Robert E. O'Connor, M.D., F.A.C.S.
- Jose A. Diaz, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.S.
- James Kasiewicz, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Lee Health Trauma Physician Assistants
- Crista Corbett, PA-C
- Miriam Ellenburg, ACNP-BC
- Bryan Newcomb, PA-C
- Erin Ross, PA-C
- David Zimmerman, PA-C
- Lee Memorial Health System’s Trauma Center is the only trauma center on Florida's Gulf Coast between Sarasota and Miami. It is one of 33 trauma centers in the state of Florida—26 are state-verified and 7 are provisional.
- Nationally, trauma is the No. 1 killer for those ages 1-46, with a secondary peak at after the age of 65
- The "Golden Hour" is the first hour after a patient's injury. This is the most critical period within which the life or death of the victim usually is determined.
- Each year in the US more than 192,000 people lose their lives to trauma.
- Lee Memorial Health System’s Trauma Center cares for approximately 2,400 traumatically injured patients each year.
- National studies show that patient mortality and morbidity is reduced by 20-25% when a patient is treated for traumatic injuries and is cared for in a trauma system rather than a non-trauma system.
- The averages length of stay in a trauma center is less than 6 days.
- Florida is divided into 22 trauma service areas, some of which have no active trauma center.
- There are 22 trauma centers in the state of Florida.
- Motor vehicle crashes make up more than 50% of all trauma cases in Florida.
- In 2010, 42,916 Florida residents and visitors were treated in a trauma center in Florida.
- About 19.4% of patients who enter a standard emergency room are uninsured. Conversely, about 15.1% of patients who enter a trauma center are uninsured.
- In 1982 when Florida's first trauma legislation was passed, there were 50 trauma centers state-wide. Today, there are 26 state verified trauma centers and 6 provisional operating in Florida.
- The Florida trauma centers that have surrendered their trauma designation have done so due to the overwhelming financial commitments required to make a trauma center a clinically viable operation.
- There are more than 1 million residents in the Lee County Trauma Services District area.
- 90% of admissions to the Lee Memorial Health System Trauma Center in calendar year 2015 were due to "blunt force trauma" primarily caused by auto accidents or falls.
What are Outreach Services?
If you or someone you know has been involved in a trauma – whether it was the result of an auto accident, a motorcycle crash, a recreational accident, a fall, or an assault – you may already be experiencing the impact that trauma and traumatic injury have on the lives of that person and their loved ones. The purpose of our Outreach Program is to provide additional support and improve outcomes for Trauma patients and families.
Nobody plans for trauma to happen to them. And so it is common that, following a traumatic injury, patients and family experience feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, pain, loss and grief. These emotions are often intensified when hospital stays lengthen, medical bills mount, and the recovery process seems daunting.
After a trauma, many Trauma Survivors find themselves thinking, feeling, and even acting differently. Survivors sometimes report feeling alone, believing that they have no one to talk to who can understand what they are going through, and not knowing where to turn for help. Caregivers and family members may feel overwhelmed, be unsure how to help their loved one, and have trouble finding answers to difficult questions. The road to recovery following a traumatic injury continues long after the initial crisis has passed, and every patient’s recovery process is different. Trauma Outreach Services provides access to resources, supports and programs that are specifically designed to assist patients and families as they navigate their recovery.
Knowing that you are not alone – there is support available and someone who understands – is an important part of the healing process. As patients and families begin to rebuild their lives after traumatic injury, the Trauma Center’s Outreach Services can help.
Trauma Survivor Support Group
The Trauma Center hosts a monthly support group for Survivors of traumatic injury including traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury, amputation, and multiple trauma. Caregivers, family members and friends are also welcome to join. The group provides an opportunity to connect with peers who have similar experiences, ask questions, share resources and provide support.
The group meets on the second Tuesday of every month in the Lee Memorial Hospital Auditorium from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm. There is no charge to participate in this service. For questions, please contact the Outreach Coordinator by phone at 239-343-2561 or email at Shannon.email@example.com.
Read this article for more information on the benefits of group therapy.
This program links patients and families with volunteer Peer Mentors who are themselves Survivors of trauma. Lee Health Trauma Mentors serve as visiting peers during hospital and rehabilitation stays and act as partners in ongoing peer relationships. This program helps patients to form connections, find assistance, and learn about resources from others who have been there.
The Peer Mentor Program is built on the commitment of former trauma Survivors who volunteer their time to provide support to patients and families. Patients, family members and Mentors alike benefit from the partnerships, which promote a shared sense of support, encouragement and purpose. Trauma patients and families are encouraged to use members of this program to help cope with the emotional impact of trauma as they navigate the recovery process. There is no charge to participate in this program.
If you would be interested in having a mentor or in becoming a mentor, please call 239-343-2561 or email the Trauma Outreach Coordinator at Shannon.firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also download the application and fax, mail or email the completed form to the Trauma Center.
- Trauma Center at Lee Health
- 2780 Cleveland Ave. Suite 702
- Fort Myers, Florida 33901
- Fax: (239)343-2968
We know too well the strain the long cold lonely nights can have on a family. We are providing bags that will have some small comfort items in them and some resource material. We are looking for lap size comforters and travel size pillow cases. If you sew, knit, crochet or quilt and would like to make a small comforter or travel size pillow case to be included in these bags please call 239-343-2561.
Patient Stories and Testimonials From the Files of: The Lee Health Trauma System.
"Nothing short of a blessing."
Party, party, party!
That was my initial thought on Dec. 7, 2010. It was Tuesday night and I had just finished a stressful day full of exams and deadlines -- it was time to celebrate.
I was a junior at Florida Gulf Coast University and may as well have been majoring in a partying degree.
However, those unhealthy habits of mine would soon change.
I went out that night with not a care in the world and only one thing on my mind -- to have a good time.
Little did I know, my night was going to end in tragedy.
After rolling my 2002 Mazda Tribute five times, my SUV hit a tree and came to a stop. I was half-way ejected from my sunroof and was air-lifted to Lee Memorial Hospital's Trauma Center.
Being only minutes from my apartment with sober friends willing to pick me up, I chose to get behind the wheel of my car with my best friend after drinking excessive amounts of alcohol that nigh.
With a blood alcohol level of .273 (over three times the legal limit), I am lucky to be alive.
My life was put in the hands of the doctors and medical staff of the Trauma Center. I suffered severe head trauma, which resulted in a wound on the left side of my head about the size of a Coke can, my right ear was stitched back together in numerous spots and my wrist was broken. Thankfully, these are all things that will heal with amazing doctors, time and a large hospital bill.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the legal action that was taken. I was charged with a DUI. In the state of Florida, a DUI stays on your record for a lifetime. It also entails multiple consequences: pricey court fees and fines, a minimum of six months of probation, a suspended license (at a minimum of six months) and lots of community service.
Yes, all of the legal aspects were difficult to endure but along with each consequence I faced came a valuable lesson, lessons that no one could ever put a price tag on.
Although my memories of that night are cloudy, what I can remember it is enough to haunt me for the rest of my life and it has been a constant struggle to forgive myself for the dangerous and selfish decision I made that night to drive.
I truly believe in miracles and that life is what you make it. If you have a negative situation on your hands, do everything in your power to make it into a positive. That is something my mother and father have always told me.
I realized that we're all human so it is inevitable for people to make mistakes but the most important thing is for you to not only learn from your mistake but to act on it as well.
Since the night of my accident, I have developed a passion for helping others any way possible. I was able to conduct a fundraiser at FGCU, where we collected more than 1,000 items to be contributed to the Trauma Center's comfort bags. I also have hopes of one day persuading the faculty and staff at FGCU to provide their students with a safe ride program, where students will have access to an affordable convenient taxi service.
Overall, I have met so many incredible and inspirational people as an outcome of my accident. I have opened so many doors that I never thought even existed and I have closed some doors that have long needed to be closed.
My life before was in a downward spiral and I can honestly say, in all sincerity, that the Trauma Center saved my life in every aspect possible.
Today, I am a senior communication and journalism major at FGCU, with only two semesters left until graduation. I now work as an editor for my school's newspaper and I am a crime reporter for the Naples Daily News. I try to be actively involved in events put on by the Trauma Center and I also volunteer at Special Equestrians, which is a therapeutic horseback riding organization for people with special needs. All of these things were non-existent to me before my trauma.
To me, my trauma was nothing short of a blessing.
Knowing where to turn for information after trauma can be confusing and difficult for both survivors and their caregivers. The resources listed here can help get you started on your journey toward understanding and coping after your traumatic injury.
- Trauma Survivors Network (TSN)
- Includes a “Traumapedia” of common traumatic injuries and treatments, a “Patient and Family Handbook” that outlines what to expect after trauma, and a “Community Forum” for survivors and families to connect and find support.
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM)
- Common responses to trauma and early warning signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- Resources for coping with traumatic events.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Traumatic Brain Injury: What is TBI?
- Informational resource and frequently asked questions about TBI.
- Understanding Brain Injury
- An informational video that can be watched free online about brain injury basics and coping after TBI.
- Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide
- A free online book for survivors and families by Dr. Glen Johnson, Clinical Neuropsychologist, with information about traumatic brain injury and suggestions for coping with common symptoms.
- Brain Injury Association of Florida
- Statewide, non-profit organization dedicated to survivors of traumatic brain injury and families.
- The Traumatic Brain Injury Resource and Support Center
- Provides access to information about TBI, resources, supports, and a helpline at 800-992-3442.
- TBI Resources for Survivors and their families including informational articles, blogs and research.
- Brain Injury Network
- A Survivor-operated non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and advocating for individuals with all types of Acquired Brain Injury.
Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
- Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program
- A Florida Department of Health funded program that provides support to Spinal Cord Injury survivors.
- Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
- Provides information, support, and access to resources for those living with Spinal Cord Injury.
- Florida Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center (FSCIRC)
- Clearinghouse of Spinal Cord Injury resource information and access to SCI mentors for support.
- National Spinal Cord Injury Association Resource Center Fact Sheets
- Provides answers to questions such as “How do I choose a Rehab facility?” and other SCI-related issues.
- CareCure Community
- Discussion forums and Questions & Answer about Spinal Cord Injury from experts and SCI members.
- Miracle Limbs Courage in Motion
- Based in Naples, this local group provides resources, mentoring and group support to amputees.
- Amputee Coalition
- National organization for amputees and families that provides resources, supports, and advocacy.
- A free online community forum that allows members to get answers to questions and locate resources.
Resources for Caregivers
- Family Caregiver Alliance
- Resources for caregivers and family members of adults with disabling health conditions.
- Understanding Brain Injury: A Guide for the Family
- An informational packet offered for free online by the Mayo Clinic for family of those with TBI.
- Spinal Cord Resource Center: For Caregivers
- Information and resources for caregivers of those with spinal cord injuries.
- Help Hope Live
- Supports fundraising campaigns for medical expenses.
- Caring Bridge
- Keep family and friends updated on progress and recovery through this free personal website tool.
- Online social community for Survivors of TBI and their families to share stories, support, and ideas.
- ACCESS Florida (Department of Children and Families)
- Apply for assistance programs including Medicaid
- Social Security Disability Benefits
- Learn about Disability Benefits and apply for SSDI.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Disability Resources
- Links to resources including Disability Benefits, Civil Rights, Community Life, Education and Employment.