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5/15/24 news article

On National Trauma Survivor Day, teen trauma patient shares her story

having a Pediatric Level 1 Trauma Center at Dayton Children’s made the difference for her

Olivia Dayton Children's teen trauma patient

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After a tragic accident at a local water park, Olivia came to Dayton Children's Level 1 Trauma Center to receive world-class care for her traumatic spine injury.

Summer fun turned tragic for Valley View teen Olivia Kozuszek and nearly destroyed her dream of seeing Taylor Swift in concert. In June 2023, she fell 25 feet off a water slide and suffered a severe neck injury. “I kept telling my friends I couldn’t move,” says Olivia. “I was afraid I was paralyzed because I couldn’t feel anything.”

When a nearby emergency room tried to send her home after finding nothing wrong, Olivia’s mom Heidi, trusted her gut. “I just said I don't think that's right. So I asked if we could go to Dayton Children’s.”

Dayton Children’s was the right place to care for Olivia’s injuries; it was certified in November 2023 as a Pediatric Level 1 Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons for the second time. This is the highest trauma level attainable, proving once again to parents that they can rely on Dayton Children’s to provide the best care for their child, even in the toughest circumstances. A fact that Heidi knew.

“It calmed me down a little bit to see so many people moving with such precision,” says Heidi. “And we had a person who stayed with us every step of the way explaining what was happening.”

Pediatric Level 1 Trauma Center

Having a dedicated social worker for trauma cases is just one of the reasons that Dayton Children’s achieved Level 1 status. The American College of Surgeons verifies the presence of the resources for optimal care of the injured patient. These 109 specific criteria outlined in a 70-page pre-review questionnaire, are grouped into areas that range from equipment resources to patient care expectations, from research to community outreach. A few elements include:

  • Continuous coverage by pediatric surgeons, and prompt availability of care in pediatric specialties such as orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, critical care, plastic surgery, ophthalmology, ENT and internal medicine
  • Continuing education of the trauma team
  • Organized teaching and research efforts to find new innovations in trauma care
  • Prevention and public education programs for the community

“This verification highlights the extreme commitment that Dayton Children’s trauma team, led by John Crow, MD, trauma medical director and Amy Schopperth, MHA, BSN, RN, trauma program manager, has to every level of care in some of the most critical circumstances,” says Deborah Feldman, president and CEO for Dayton Children’s. “They not only treat the injuries but provide long-lasting healing for body and soul. Our trauma providers live our mission of the relentless pursuit of optimal health for every child within our reach.”

what mattered to Olivia

For Olivia, the certification meant that she was immediately placed in the right size of neck brace that fit her small frame. Her injuries were identified – torn ligaments in her neck, a shifted spine and bruising of the spinal cord. She stayed in the pediatric intensive care unit until she was stable and ready for surgery. She received surgical care that was just right for her age, size and injury. She had emotional support that was customized to her developmental stage as a teenager. It meant she was able to return to cheerleading, softball and living life as she always had – and it meant that, despite a delay and a change of city, Olivia was able to see Taylor Swift in concert in Los Angeles.

Read Olivia's full storyWatch Olivia's story


trauma certification surveyors' comments

Some of the strengths the surveyors pointed out include:

  • Outstanding orthopedic, neurosurgical, child advocacy team and registry commitment to the trauma program
  • Having a dedicated trauma social worker
  • Organized and extensive outreach and prevention programs
  • Trauma nurse leader program and outstanding education for nursing
  • Extensive partnerships with EMS and nursing schools
  • Addition of a pediatric emergency medicine fellowship program
  • Commitment to research
  • Rehabilitation expansion with inpatient beds

fast facts:

  • 1,017 pediatric trauma patients in 2023 at the main campus
  • Overall traumas increased 12.5% from 2022 to 2023.
  • Most common causes of trauma seen at Dayton Children’s are car crashes, falls, abuse and sports-related injuries.

Deborah Feldman

president and chief executive officer
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