This is Why

A reflection on healthcare after a traumatic motor vehicle accident


Tinomutenda M. Tsikirai

4/9/20242 min read

It was December of 2017 and my classmates and I were studying for a Healthcare Admin final exam. The northern Californian sun was shining outside that Sunday afternoon and the campus was quite peaceful, interrupted only by the sound of our discussions and chuckles. Suddenly, we heard the screeching of a car, followed by a loud, and uncomfortably ominous bang. I looked up abruptly and looked at my study mates. Within seconds we decided to hop into a car to figure out what was going on. What we saw will forever be etched in my memory.

A vehicle was wrapped around a tree, paramedics were trying to remove the injured individual from the damaged car. We sat in the car and watched the whole scene in near silence. "Is he alive?" I asked. None of us could tell. We continued to watch the first responders painstakingly continue to pull the injured from the mangled mess of what used to be a functioning pick-up truck. Eventually, they pulled the person out and we saw an arm move. The person was alive! With urgency, the patient was placed on a stretcher and transported to the hospital in an ambulance. We drove back to campus in silence, processing what we had just witnessed, and tried to resume our test prep.

After the first responders intervene at the accident site, the responsibility of care is transferred to the hospital. That's where the patient experience begins. My assumption is that as soon as the patient arrived at the hospital, they were surrounded by trauma nurses, ED doctors, respiratory therapists, and other clinical staff members. Based on the apparent extent of the injuries we observed, I assume the patient was in the hospital for a long while, possibly facing blood transfusions, surgeries, bandages, and stitches. From there, they likely would be cared for by physical therapists, and even more nurses. After the acute phase of recovery was over, they were probably transferred from the hospital to a rehab facility, then ambulatory follow-ups with PCP, and possible home health OT, PT, and nursing.

The burden of patient experience is to make sure that patient not only leaves the hospital as a survivor, but is connected with providers who can manage their care outside of the hospital. Patient experience does not end at discharge. It continues with every follow-up interaction post-discharge. It goes beyond the clinical practitioners in white labs coats and stethoscopes,

This is why I'm studying healthcare administration, I thought as I attempted to memorize the information from my text book and class lectures. To be honest, I don't recall what sections were covered during that exam. But I will never forget the impression that was made on me by that tragic car crash.

I never did find out what happened to the injured driver after that accident. But it is my hope that they are somewhere in California, fully mobile and able to enjoy a fulfilling life.