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Surgical Trauma Nurse Jhoan “JoJo” Perez-Ordenana begins her shifts the same way. Before starting her rounds at IU Health Methodist Hospital, she gathers her fellow trauma nurses for a huddle and chants, “Let’s do this. We’ve got this!”
The daily ritual is JoJo’s only moment of routine because in trauma care, no two days are ever the same.
The high-speed unit cares for patients with gunshot and stab wounds, injuries related to traumatic car crashes, serious burns, and blunt force trauma.
“Someone I worked with once told me, ‘When you see someone with broken bones and you want to fix them … you belong in trauma care,’” JoJo recalls.
IU Health Methodist Hospital Level 1 Trauma Center is the most established center in the state, offering the highest level of trauma care available in the United States. It is home to the city’s first motorized ambulance, which began bringing patients to the hospital from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) in the early 1900s. Over the decades, the partnership with IMS and the establishment of the infield IU Health Emergency Medical Center greased the wheels for many medical firsts, including IU Health LifeLine, the oldest air ambulance in Indiana which took its first flight in 1979.
Fewer than 10% of US hospitals have a Level I Trauma Center. Fortunately, only a few patients have injuries severe enough to need these services, however, when they do, patient family members are comforted to know that the same clinicians who treat race car drivers are treating their loved ones.
“It takes a special person to be a trauma nurse because you have to learn how to separate your emotions from your ability to be a nurse,” says JoJo. “This is especially hard for me as so many of my patients touch my heart.”
Because her patients have experienced such extreme trauma, JoJo likes to go the extra mile to ensure each person feels special and safe.
“Last year, I nursed a homeless man with an untreated tooth abscess. The infection had caused half of his face to split open,” JoJo remembers. “He was in extreme pain. But what made things more difficult was that he was also going through withdrawal from drugs.”
According to JoJo, the patient was extremely aggressive and would scream and throw things. “Taking care of his man was the hardest thing I’ve ever done as a nurse,” JoJo says.
While the patient was preparing for facial reconstruction surgery, JoJo remained committed to helping him feel at ease during his hospitalization. After three days, the patient’s attitude finally began to soften. When it was time for him to be transferred to another unit, JoJo sent him off with a new pair of shoes since he came to the hospital without any, and a promise to visit him.
“When I went to see him, I sat by his bed, and he took my hand,” JoJo recalls. “He looked at me and said, ‘You are the reason I am still alive. You are the first person who has ever cared about me.’”
Earlier this year, JoJo's commitment to patients earned her an award for compassionate care.
“Her generosity and her persistence to do the right thing are just a couple reasons why I chose to nominate JoJo,” says Clinical Operations Manager Gloria Wiser, RN. “She really is the ultimate provider of care to those in need.”
In addition to the physical injuries that trauma patients face, many are also scarred with psychological trauma from the jarring events they have experienced. Having compassionate nurses such as JoJo can make all the difference in helping patients recover both physically and emotionally from a life-threatening diagnosis.
If you would like to support the hope-giving work of trauma care at IU Health, consider a gift to the Level 1 Trauma Center at IU Health Methodist Hospital. When prompted, select “IU Health Methodist Hospital” as the location and direct your gift to “Other.” When the text box appears, write “Level 1 Trauma Center.” For additional questions, contact Kate Konzen, CFRE, development officer at IU Health Foundation.