Elliot's Story: A Coordinated Trauma Network

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Craig Feltner looked at his phone and saw that he had calls from the Ohio Highway Patrol. He went to his wife, Stefanie, and said, “Something’s happened. We got to go.”

“We received a phone call that Elliot had been transported via CareFlight to Miami Valley Hospital,” Craig says. Craig, Stefanie and Elliot, their son, live in Park Hills, Kentucky.

“The report that I got for Elliot was that he was a 23-year-old young man. A new college graduate,” says Doug Klein, RN, medical-surgical intensive care unit at Miami Valley Hospital. “He had been in a horrible automobile accident.”

Elliot was hit by an impaired driver travelling at more than 100 miles per hour. The impact caused his car to flip seven times.

A Coordinated Trauma Network

“When EMS arrived on scene and found Elliot, they began their care and they immediately loaded him into the ambulance and took him to Atrium Medical Center, which is a Level III Trauma Center,” says Alexandra Carpenter, BSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, trauma program manager at Atrium Medical Center. 

Elliot’s accident occurred less than a mile from Atrium. As part of Premier Health’s trauma network, the team at Atrium initiated lifesaving trauma interventions for a seamless transition to a higher level of specialized care.

“The team at Atrium did a needle thoracenteses, where they put the hole in Elliot’s chest to alleviate pressure that was being placed on his heart from his lung,” explains Alexandra. “That was actually potentially stopping his heart from beating. When they placed that needle in his chest, he had return of spontaneous circulation and his heart began to beat again.”

Once stable, Elliot was sent via CareFlight to Miami Valley Hospital.

“Elliot had a severe brain injury,” says Gregory Semon, DO, trauma surgeon. “That’s why he was transferred to Miami Valley Hospital, which is our Level I Trauma Center.”

“Initially, we did think about, did we need to get him closer to home,” says Craig. “You know, back to Cincinnati. That was a short discussion…we quickly determined that Miami Valley was the place for Elliot to recover.”

Brain and Spine Injuries

Elliot had bleeding in the brain. “The body’s normal response is to begin swelling, and we have to do everything possible to prevent the swelling within the brain,” says Dr. Semon.

“They had to install a bolt in his head,” says Stefanie. “That is what monitors your cranial pressure.” 

In addition to his brain bleeding, Elliot’s cervical vertebrae C-6 and C-7 were fractured. “If the pressure had not been relieved, then the cervical injury would probably not have mattered, because it’s doubtful that he would have survived,” says Doug.

Stefanie and Craig were talking to physicians about Elliot’s cervical injuries and his cranial pressure, trying to plan when he should have spinal surgery. “We needed his cranial pressure to go down before he was stable enough,” says Stefanie.

“Things were changing fast. You don’t have a whole lot of time,” says Craig. “He was in brain surgery at, what felt like, a five-minute notice. But we had complete confidence with people we didn’t know, you know, prior to any of this, that they would be able to do the job.”

“There was some damage to the spinal cord in Elliot’s case,” says Doug. “We knew at that point it likely meant some level of paralysis for him.”

“The doctor came out of the spinal surgery and told us that the paralysis was considered incomplete,” says Stefanie. “That means that when they ran some tests…something was firing and running down through is hands and his fingers, half way down one leg, and all the way down to his toes on the other. So I think that gave Craig and I, sort of, a sense of hope that, you know, maybe there’s potential here.”

In Craig’s mind, there was never a concern whether Elliot was going to survive. The concern was with what condition he would be in upon surviving. 

“Figure Out a Way To Look At the Bright Side”

After 32 days at Miami Valley Hospital, Elliot spent five months at Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado, for inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation.

“I don’t remember what happened,” says Elliot. “It’s honestly just like you’re living normal life at 23, and then you fell asleep and you wake up and suddenly you don’t really know what happened.

“You’d be surprised how well you can deal with something, like when it’s your only option…you’ll figure out a way to look at the bright side.”

The Feltners are thankful for the way the Miami Valley Hospital team surrounded them with support.

“When we were there [at Miami Valley Hospital], we were so exposed and so vulnerable, so to be able to somehow manage Elliot’s care while managing us, is, I guess, what I appreciated,” says Stefanie.

Elliot says he was lucky.

“The fact that there was a nurse, the firefighter, right behind me when I crashed, as well as being so close to a Level I trauma care hospital, that’s just all been so…it’s odd the way that certain things play out.”

Craig says that Miami Valley Hospital and the staff there will always be a part of their lives. “Just in an instant like that, we became a part of Miami Valley and Dayton…they played a critical and vital role with getting Elliot to the next step of therapy, and we’ll continue to build from there.”

Headshot of Gregory Semon, DO,FACS,FACOS

Gregory Semon, DO,FACS,FACOS

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