By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor
Robert Dolinksy spent months at Delray Medical Center. He learned to walk there again and brush his teeth.
It has been three and a half years since he was hit on Atlantic Avenue by a pick up truck going 40 miles per hour. Dolinsky was a pedestrian. He was out celebrating with longtime friends when the accident happened.
He was rushed to Delray Medical Center, which is a level one trauma hospital. During the first 24 hours in the hospital he received 90 blood transfusions, he said.
Now, 36 months later and 30 surgeries, he said he feels recovered.
“This place is really in the business of saving lives,” he said of the hospital. “They saved my life. It’s been a hell of a ride.”
He said he comes back to the hospital’s annual event to speak and share his gratitude for the people who helped him and his family.
“I feel a responsibility to come back,” he said. “I am forever grateful.”
Dolinsky was one of a room full of survivors who shared his story and gave thanks to the hospital and its staff for saving his life.
Another patient said he was on a date when he was hit by a car while crossing the street. After spending months in a coma, he too learned to walk, talk and use his hands again at Delray Medical Center.
Marie Wallace said she was driving to Palm Beach from Fort Lauderdale on Oct. 20, 2016 to meet a client to celebrate a business deal. As she was driving on I-95, she said she felt an impact. Then she felt it again. An 18-wheeler hit her twice.
“From there, I remember nothing,” she said. “I woke up a few days later, here, at Delray Medical Center.”
She had two collapsed lungs, a lacerated liver, seven broken ribs, a fractured sternum and her brain was bleeding.
“When I came here on that Thursday I was a stranger,” she said. “The team here went to work for me with the highest level of their skill. When I left here they had to lift me out of a wheelchair. Here I am walking talking back in my high heels again. It’s a team of people that make everything work together like clock work.”
Director of the trauma department Ivan Puente said the event is the staff’s favorite day of the year.
“It really warms your heart,” he said.
Delray Medical Center is a Level 1 trauma centers. Hospitals are ranked with Level IV being the lowest to Level 1 the highest. That means the hospital has the most advanced treatment equipment and immediate availability of trauma surgeons, anesthesiologists, physician specialists, nurses, and resuscitation equipment that are needed to treat critically injured patients. Level I centers treat a higher number of patients and must participate in teaching and research.
A trauma center sees patients who have multiple fractures, possible paralysis, punctured lungs, stab wounds, gunshot wounds and brain injuries.
The hospital treats between 2,200 and 2,500 trauma patients annually, which averages to seven or eight patients per day.
Dr. Puente said on call the day of the event and by mid-afternoon he said he had already seen six trauma patients.
He said trauma isn’t always a gun and knife show. In addition to gun shot wounds, stabbings and car accidents, he said the hospital also treats a lot of elderly people who fall.