“I THOUGHT REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER WAS ONLY A PLACE TO GO IF YOU WERE IN A CAR WRECK OR SOME TERRIBLE ACCIDENT, BUT WE LEARNED FIRST-HAND THAT THIS HOSPITAL SYSTEM AND MEDICAL TEAM ARE MUCH MORE THAN THAT. IF YOU OR YOUR LOVED ONE IS BURNED, IT IS ABSOLUTELY THE ONLY PLACE YOU WANT TO BE. THE TREATMENT AND QUALITY OF CARE BY THE ENTIRE STAFF OF PHYSICIANS AND NURSES IS UNSURPASSED.”
STEPHANIE NICHOLS, STEWART’S MOM
With a new school year starting in two weeks, 14-year-old Stewart Nichols and her family were enjoying their last summer outing at their vacation home on Pickwick Lake.
One afternoon, Stewart and a couple of friends hopped on the family’s golf cart for a ride with a few friends. She had not been gone long when her mother’s cell phone rang with news of an accident. The golf cart careened out of control and flipped over, pinning Stewart underneath.
During the crash, one passenger was thrown from the cart and suffered a head injury. The other passenger escaped serious injury by jumping from the cart before it crashed. The uninjured passenger was able to provide immediate assistance to the two other victims. He quickly pulled the cart off of Stewart, but found she was badly injured. As the cart was upside-down, battery acid leaked onto her ankle and ran down her leg, causing severe second and third-degree burns.
Stewart’s mother, Stephanie, is grateful for the fast action of her daughter’s friend. “I truly believe that God was in control of the situation,” Mrs. Nichols said. “Had Stewart’s friend not pulled that cart off of her, she would have suffered those painful burns over her entire body.”
Stewart was rushed to the nearest local emergency room and then transferred to the pediatric trauma center at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis. Having spotted Stewart’s severe chemical burns, the medical team at LeBonheur immediately contacted Dr. Hickerson at Regional Medical Center.
Since then, Dr. Hickerson has overseen Stewart’s treatment, performing two additional surgeries and managing her outpatient wound care services at Regional Medical Center. Her ongoing treatment has required extensive visits to the Firefighters Burn Center over the last several months.
Right now, Dr. Hickerson is doing everything he can to avoid skin grafting and has successfully treated 98 percent of Stewart’s burns with skin substitutes, while using cutting-edge treatment on the remaining two percent of the affected area.
While Stewart realizes she still has a long road ahead, she looks forward to a full recovery and is thankful for how far she has come along with the help of Dr. Hickerson and his team at the Firefighters Burn Center.
Regional One Health treats hundred of burn patients just like Stewart every year.