Ponte Vedra High School senior Madison Schemitz, right, shoots a selfie with her mother, Jacqueline Rogue, and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Lt. Matt Avera. They were at the trauma survivors day event Thursday, May 16, 2024, at HCA Jacksonville Memorial Hospital. | Dan Scanlan, Jacksonville TodayPonte Vedra High School senior Madison Schemitz, right, shoots a selfie with her mother, Jacqueline Rogue, and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Lt. Matt Avera. They were at the trauma survivors day event Thursday, May 16, 2024, at HCA Jacksonville Memorial Hospital. | Dan Scanlan, Jacksonville Today
Ponte Vedra High School senior Madison Schemitz, right, shoots a selfie with her mother, Jacqueline Rogue, and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Lt. Matt Avera. They were at the Trauma Survivors Day event Thursday, May 16, 2024, at HCA Jacksonville Memorial Hospital. | Dan Scanlan, Jacksonville Today

Trauma survivors cheer their saviors at Memorial Hospital

Published on May 16, 2024 at 7:05 pm

Eight grateful patients returned to HCA Florida Memorial Hospital Jacksonville on Thursday, reunited with the teams that saved their lives and in some cases their limbs.

The occasion was National Trauma Survivors Day at the Southside center. Among the survivors was Madison Schemitz, an 18-year-old Ponte Vedra High School senior who was paralyzed when she was stabbed 17 times outside a restaurant 11 months ago.

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The young woman is able to walk now after an attack that also injured her mother, Jacqueline Rogue, and Schemitz is set to graduate Friday. After both received their “Trauma Survivor” medals from hospital staff, they hugged the doctors and nurses who worked on them. Both said that they had one reason to be at Memorial Hospital.

“Because this is the most amazing hospital ever, with the most incredible staff, and we are so appreciative beyond words,” Rogue said.

“What she said,” Schemitz added with laughter. “It was an awesome opportunity to just give thanks to everybody who helped me stay alive, and I am super thankful for them — I always will be and I love all of them very dearly, so it’s a good opportunity for me to express my gratitude.”

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Memorial Hospital, as well as HCA Florida Orange Park Hospital, are Level 2 Trauma facilities. That means they have full-time, on-site trauma surgeons and anesthesiologists as well as dedicated operating rooms for traumatic injuries requiring surgery. UF Health Jacksonville is a Level I Trauma Center, able to provide total care from injury through rehabilitation.

Trauma is the leading cause of death for individuals up to 45 years old and the fourth-leading cause of death for all ages in the United States, hospital officials said. So HCA Florida hospitals regularly honor National Trauma Survivors Day by inviting those who were injured in crashes, attacks or other situations to reunite with the doctors and nurses who treated them in the hours after their injuries.

This year, patients injured in Duval and St. Johns counties joined the medical teams in Memorial’s new auditorium.

Reed Hammond, CEO of HCA Florida Memorial Hospital, speaks to injury survivors Thursday, May 16, 2024, during National Trauma Survivors Day. | Dan Scanlan, Florida Today

Looking down at the front row occupied by people who had been stabbed or crushed by cars, CEO Reed Hammond said the hospital has already dealt with 900 trauma cases so far this year, after helping 2,300 victims last year. But he said those people are more than statistics.

“Our trauma team works tirelessly, everyone doing their part in the most efficient way to deliver excellent care, maximizing each patient’s recovery efforts,” he said. “These special patients are touched by many, and today we are going to reunite all points of care for our survivors, bringing them together, some for the first time.”

The events also included Jacksonville and St. Johns County Fire and Rescue staff, who are the first to treat injured men, women and children. Jacksonville Fire and Rescue’s medical director, Brad Elias, welcomed the recovered victims and related how pleased he was when Memorial got its designation in 2018 as a Level 2 Trauma Unit.

“Over the years, the surrounding rescue units have been comforted knowing high quality, comprehensive trauma services were close by and would be able to give our patients a fighting chance for survival when tragic events happen,” Elias said.

Caitlyn Sowell thanks the medical trauma teams that helped her after she was in a car that hit a tree in Mandarin, breaking her leg and ankle bones. | Dan Scanlan, Jacksonville Today

Caitlyn Sowell was one of the victims of a tragic event about nine month’s ago, when the car she was in hydroplaned into a tree on San Jose Boulevard, leaving her with broken thigh and ankle bones. She is almost fully recovered now after being in a wheelchair for three months, but she was more than happy to be able to thank those who healed her.

“I was stuck in the car for 45 minutes — couldn’t move, couldn’t get out. Rescuers had to get me out with no form of painkillers,” the 18-year-old woman remembered. “I am so honored and so blessed to have this opportunity because I didn’t really think I would see them again, and I am really grateful. I just want to take a minute to appreciate them.”

Also on hand to thank the trauma teams were:

  • Victoria Corlazzoli, 59, who was struck by a garbage truck while bicycling.
  • Brian Callaham, 62, who sustained head injuries as a passenger in a vehicle wreck.
  • Ayden Bush, 18, who was involved in a rollover wreck with traumatic injuries.
  • Roy Walsh, 28, a cyclist struck by a car who sustained traumatic injuries.
  • Jake Brown,19, who recovered from serious traumatic head injuries

Spencer Pearson, arrested in the attack on Schemitz in June 2023, remains jailed pending trial on charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery, according to court records.

HCA Florida Orange Park Hospital also hosted a celebration this week to honor trauma survivors on National Trauma Survivors Day.


author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years of experience in radio, television, and print reporting. He has worked at various stations in the Northeast and Jacksonville. Prior to joining the WJCT News team, Dan spent 34 years at The Florida Times-Union as a police and current affairs reporter.
author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years of experience in radio, television, and print reporting. He has worked at various stations in the Northeast and Jacksonville. Prior to joining the WJCT News team, Dan spent 34 years at The Florida Times-Union as a police and current affairs reporter.

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