HEALTH MATTERS: New Major Trauma Network will let patients home in time for Christmas

 Miriam and daughter Catherine pictured outside the QEUH.

By LIzzie Healey

A PATIENT who was  involved in a serious car crash is alive and recovering today thanks to the new Major Trauma Centre at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) which saved her life and significantly improved her rehabilitation time.

Miriam Patterson, 62, thought it would be up to five months before she was able to get home from hospital and another four months before she fully recovered, but thanks to her determination and modern rehabilitation facilities at the new Major Trauma Centre within the QEUH, she was discharged in less than ten weeks.

Retired teacher Miriam had been travelling home from a family day out in Castle Douglas in July, when the car she was a passenger in, driven by daughter Catherine, 35, was involved in a head-on collision. Tragically, Miriam’s husband Gary, 65 – who was also a passenger – sadly died at the scene on the A713, near Patna, Ayrshire. 

However, with the pre-hospital trauma team on site to respond, Miriam was airlifted to the QEUH for immediate trauma care. While daughter Catherine escaped with relatively minor injuries, spending three nights in University Hospital Crosshouse, Miriam suffered multiple injuries, including four broken limbs – ankles and wrists – and significant internal organ damage.

She spent the next seven days in critical care as doctors worked to keep her alive. Once stable, she was the first ever patient to be transferred to the new dedicated Major Trauma Ward 1C, where she received highly integrated care from a range of specialists who worked closely on both her immediate recovery and rehabilitation.

Miriam, who was discharged four weeks ago and continues rehab at home and with specialists at her local hospital, University Hospital Crosshouse, said:

“I don’t remember anything about the accident but I sustained serious injuries. In the initial days after the crash, my family had grave concerns as to whether or not I would recover.”

Catherine said: “It was an incredibly anxious and worrying time for our family but the trauma team were absolutely amazing and I could see that everyone was as determined as my mum was to facilitate her recovery.

“Being on a dedicated trauma ward meant that the doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists could work collaboratively to help get my mum back on her feet quickly, despite her injuries.

“The ward staff went above and beyond to ensure my mum could be released for a short time to attend my dad’s funeral service, which was a big ask, given the extent of her injuries at the time.

“We are extremely grateful for the exceptional care and compassion of the ward staff and for their kindness in supporting our mum.”

Miriam underwent an intensive recovery programme, learning how to walk and use her hands again, improving her manual dexterity.

She said: “Initially I was told recovery could be between six and nine months, and we’d be lucky if would be discharged before Christmas. But being on the dedicated trauma ward meant I was able to progress quickly, condensing months of rehab treatment into the space of a few weeks – something that simply wouldn’t have been possible at my local hospital.

“I consider myself incredibly lucky to have been the first patient to have received care on this ward. Every member of the team, from consultant to cleaner, made my time in hospital a very positive experience given the terrible circumstances surrounding my admission. I will always be thankful for the wonderful care I received.”

Johnathan Farrell, Specialist Physiotherapist at the Major Trauma Centre, said:  “We can have all the skills and technology in place but recovery comes down to the individual too and Miriam’s speedy discharge is testament to her own determination. We’re thoroughly impressed at her progress.

“There have been difficult days and there will undoubtedly be more to come but to be able to discharge her back to her home so she can spend time with family, is invaluable. I think her case shows that the Major Trauma Network approach is working and helping to ensure trauma patients like Miriam who need critical, life-saving treatment which is quickly followed up with intensive rehab – are directed to the right specialist centres straight away.

“For Miriam, this meant being able to benefit from intensive rehabilitation, while also receiving immediate life-saving care from a top team of trauma surgeons. Now that Miriam is back home, she’s able to continue her rehab with support from local community teams based in NHS Ayrshire and Arran.”

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