Miami-Dade Police Show Gratitude to Ryder Trauma Center

Nearly every night, South Floridians get a glimpse of Ryder Trauma Center, the region’s only Level 1 trauma facility. The world-renowned center, operated by Jackson Memorial Hospital and the Miller School’s Department of Surgery, is frequently the backdrop for grim TV news reports about severely injured people.

In some cases, the person rushed to Ryder clinging to life after an accident or an attack is a police officer.

At a July 13 news conference at the UM/Jackson Ryder Trauma Center, Miami-Dade Police Director James K. Loftus expressed his department’s collective thanks to the venerable trauma center by presenting a certificate of appreciation to Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya, and Nicholas Namias, M.D., M.B.A., professor of surgery and medical director of trauma at Ryder.

During the public display of gratitude, dozens of police officers stood shoulder to shoulder with physicians, nurses and other staff to show their appreciation for dedicated Ryder staffers, who are always there when needed most, and have the expertise, resources and technology to keep so many police officers and others alive.

“Unfortunately, too often the men and women who protect and serve us are victims of dreadful injuries, so we take particular pride in having the Ryder Trauma Center here to take care of them, to help them heal and get back to their lives,” said Dean Goldschmidt, who is also CEO of UHealth – University of Miami Health System. “Ryder is a place where miracles happen; I have seen them over and over.”

Police detective Carlos Castillo is one such miracle.

In April 2010, Castillo was critically injured when a man who fled after a traffic stop hurled a 30-pound cinder block down two stories and onto Castillo’s head. He then ran the detective over with his own police car.

It took eight months of treatment and recovery at Ryder before Castillo realized the extent of his injuries— major brain trauma, a fractured right arm, a collapsed lung and a lacerated liver, an ordeal he knew about only from fellow officers who described the violent encounter.

“When I arrived, doctors thought I had been shot in the head,” Castillo recalled. “The recovery was long and strenuous. I wanted to come back and express my thanks to the staff that helped me during those rough times.”

Loftus, who described Castillo and his colleagues as examples of the “many major and minor miracles you see sitting in the audience today,” recalled how he came to revere Ryder and Jackson early in his police career. While they cruised the streets, he said his senior officer told him, “If something happens, get me to Jackson.” Loftus wasn’t sure then who or what Jackson was. He quickly learned that “Jackson was a place with really big brains and really big hearts.”

“Jackson,” Loftus said, “is that state of mind that gives people peace to know that if I’m really hurt, and I can get there … take me to Jackson. That gives a lot of peace to the families of a lot of people in this room.”

Having grown up in Miami, officer Kathy Sullivan is no stranger to the miracle workers at Jackson and Ryder. After a near-fatal motorcycle accident, she spent eight days recovering at the trauma center.

“Jackson saved my life,” Sullivan said. “It means a lot knowing they are here in case anything happens.”

Since its 1992 founding, the Ryder Trauma Center and its medical staff have developed a worldwide reputation for clinical excellence. It excels at reducing preventable deaths by speeding up the delivery of trauma care during the critical 60 minutes after injury.

Care, though, extends well beyond that “golden hour.” As Namias told the audience, which included Castillo’s family and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan, saving police officers and the 3,600 other patients treated at Ryder annually requires a large and dedicated team, many members of whom work behind the scenes.

“Today I stand up here representing the hundreds of people it takes—from the minute you walk through the door to the minute you leave rehab—to bring one person, one officer, to bring anybody who is injured, from a life-threatening crisis to a full recovery,” Namias said. “Thank you very much.”

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