Six months ago, Maddy Wilford came to Broward Health North with multiple gun wounds following a deadly mass shooting at her Florida high school—and this summer, she returned to volunteer as an intern at the same hospital where she underwent lifesaving surgery, Jess Bidgood reports for the New York Times.
Wilford was one of 17 people who were shot and survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last winter.
During the incident, Wilford was shot multiple times. Recounting her experience, Wilford said, "All of a sudden, I felt myself get shot in the chest." Wilford said she looked to see if she could find someone to help her, but she only saw blood and assumed, "I'm going to die." According to the Times, Wilford was so weak when paramedics found her that they thought she was dead.
Igor Nichiporenko, the chief of trauma at Broward Health North, explained bullets had pierced Wilford's arm and torso, which caused her lungs to bleed, ribs to break, and injuries in the tendons and muscles of her arms. Within 48 hours of arrival at the hospital, Wilford underwent five life-saving surgeries..
"With my injuries, I would have been dead," Wilford said. "The work they performed on me, and how quickly I recovered, it made me become more interested" in medicine. Wilford said prior to the shooting she'd already been considering a career in medicine.
Wilford returns to the hospital where providers saved her life
To better explore that interest, Wilford decided to return to Broward Health North as an intern. As an intern, Wilford has seen providers perform surgeries—including one of the surgeries they performed to save her life. She has trimmed thread from sutures, witnessed a man die after sustaining stab wounds, and learned how to find a patient's veins on an ultrasound. She has held a patient's skin stretched out as a surgical assistant placed surgical staples in the patient's arm and she has seen a vascular surgeon graft a bovine artery to a patient's veins and then channel the graft underneath the patient's skin.
David Wilford, her father, said, "Some people would go through what she went through and never want to set foot in a hospital again." But his daughter returned to the hospital, where she saw her interest in medicine fortified.
He added that his daughter's summer internship at the hospital seemed to help her heal in that it taught her how to handle the pain associated with illness and violence.
While some students have decided not to return to school following the shooting, Wilford said she feels "[i]t's better to get through it now." She continued, "Go back to the hospital, go back to the school, and deal with it now, rather than push it aside and deal with it later in life" (Bidgood, New York Times, 8/21).
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Hospitals must be prepared for myriad disasters that can stress health care systems to the breaking point and disrupt delivery of vital health care services.
Advisory Board has compiled step-by-step procedures for various threats your facility may encounter—though we hope you'll never need to use them.