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Providence Survivors: "I Shouldn't Be Alive"

Past patients highlight anniversary of Holy Cross Trauma Center.

Providence Holy Cross a busy hospital. A designated trauma center, Holy Cross gets the added responsibility of taking on the most severely wounded patients in the event of an emergency.

Today, hospital staff, past patients and supporters gathered to celebrate 25 years as a trauma center, treating victims whose lives were on the line. Of course, Holy Cross is no stranger to the need for trauma care, since the hospital itself was born out of one of the worst disasters in southern California history. 

On January 31, 1957, a jet plane from Edwards Air Force Base collided with a test plane in mid air over Pacoima Jr. High School. As referenced in the La Bamba movie, the debris from the accident killed three children, and injured many more.  All but one of the crewmembers in the airplanes died as well.

providencetrauma25yr_1.jpgAfter that incident, community leaders started making plans for a hospital to serve emergency cases in the northern San Fernando Valley. Four years later a 7-story hospital was completed on the site of Providence Holy Cross.

In 1984 Holy Cross became an official trauma center, and it began accepting the most critical patients from motor vehicle accidents, violence, disasters, and any other circumstance imaginable.

In the 25 years since, Holy Cross has seen over 24,000 trauma patients. Saturday’s celebration underscored some of the major successes from that tenure.

Roberta Jones, a high school student, was the victim of a random shooting while she was walking down the street. The bullet went into one side of her head and out the other. Emergency crews rushed her to Holy Cross, where she entered the Intensive Care Unit before experiencing multiple brain surgeries. Originally, her condition was so poor that the hospital notified an organ donation center to alert them that a new donor may soon become available.

But Roberts survived, and after several months recovering and learning how to communicate again, she was able to stand alongside the medical staff that saved her life.  To make the day even more poignant, tonight Roberta will be attending her senior prom.

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Roberta Jones (right) stands with those who helped save her live.

Roberta’s mother thanked the nurses, doctors and support staff at Providence for helping her family along the road to recovery.

“The support she received from the staff was just as important as the medical treatment,” she said.

LAPD SWAT Officer Bruce Hunt was on his way home from work seven years ago when he witnessed a car accident on the freeway. In his police car, he pulled over and began to assist the victims. Suddenly, another vehicle traveling 60 mph hit him and sandwiched his body between the cars.

His chest crushed, shoulders ripped from their sockets, lungs collapsed and legs mangled, Officer Hunt was taken to Providence Holy Cross.

“I talked with some of the [paramedic] guys after, and they said there was no doubt about where they were going to take me,” he recalled. 

What followed was a miracle, as Bruce was treated for each of his injuries and he spent the next three and a half months mending at Holy Cross. Those months, he said, “were the best months of my life.”

One of Hunt's legs had to be amputated, but otherwise he has completely recovered.

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Former LAPD Officer Bruce Hunt

And the list goes on. Like Michelle Sapper, who spent two months in a coma after being hit by a drunk driver. Luckily, the accident occurred in front of the home of Holy Cross’ emergency surgeon, and he assisted her from the crash site to the hospital. She now volunteers her time to work with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. 

Or Ben Kadish, who was shot by a white supremacist at his Granada Hills preschool in 1999. Ben is now a young man, who has his doctors and emergency responders to thank for his ability to celebrate today.

Of course with all those who have been saved, there are those who did not walk out of those hospital doors, and for those a prayer was offered Saturday.

Doctors vowed to continue the mission of providing trauma care to anyone who needs it. That service will benefit from the recent expansion of Holy Cross’ emergency room, and the new patient tower currently under construction.