News & Events

Students learn motor vehicle safety from former Backus patient

November 15, 2013

For many Backus staffers, the name Matthew Crowe evokes bittersweet memories.

Three years ago, Crowe, a 17-year-old from Griswold was a passenger in his friend’s small pick-up truck. The driver was traveling too fast on a winding back road and hit a tree.  Not wearing his seatbelt, Crowe suffered tremendous injuries.

When rescue crews arrived on the scene, Crowe was unresponsive and had a broken arm and leg, collapsed lungs, multiple facial injuries and trauma to the brain.  Crowe was taken to Backus where he was stabilized and then transferred to Rhode Island Hospital for more extensive trauma care.  Two months later, Crowe was transferred back to Backus for care on A-3.

With the valiant efforts of a large care team, Crowe continued his long road to recovery.  Staff from Trauma, Patient Care Services, the Medical Staff, Rehabilitation Services, Environmental Services, the Center for Healthcare Integration, and others were involved in his care.  Corporate Communications also followed Crowe to document his story.  Crowe captured the hearts of all who cared for him.

The now 20-year-old has made remarkable progress and wants to share his experience with others.  The first time speaking publically about his accident and injuries, Crowe visited with Plainfield High School students participating in Trauma’s “Be Aware” program on Wednesday, Oct. 23.

By the time students circled back to the entry level conference rooms to listen to Crowe’s story, they had already toured the hospital to learn what it’s like to be a trauma patient as a result of a motor vehicle crash.

Their morning started in the ambulance bay where American Ambulance paramedics described the emergency procedures taken at a crash scene, and how this process can be delayed if victims have to be extricated from the vehicle.  The tour then moved to the trauma area where registered nurse, Laurie Matylewicz, RN, explained the fast-paced and life-saving measures taken by Emergency Department staff to control bleeding and respiratory issues.

In the Critical Care Unit, students learned what is done to keep patients alive including breathing machines, tubes to expand the lungs, measuring urine and measuring the activity and pressure of the brain. Life-like mannequins were used in both areas to help bring to life the devastation caused by such an accident.

Along the way, students also visited the morgue and autopsy room. Gillian Mosier, RN, MSN, Trauma Program Manager, drew a stark comparison between today’s hit forensic shows and the morbid reality of death. Students saw firsthand the exam table and tools used to perform an autopsy.

After their tour, Ms. Mosier accompanied the students to the main lobby conference rooms where they watched sobering videos of car crashes and were faced with the real consequences of drunken and distracted driving.

With a tremendous amount of information packed with emotion, Crowe then addressed the students and told them about his experience.

“I feel accomplished to have come this far,” he said.

Crowe’s mother, Dawn Majoria said that it’s hard to see her son in this condition day in and day out.  The realities of traumatic brain injury can be very difficult to deal with.

Majoria also explained how the family’s home had to be remodeled to accommodate her son’s new handicaps.

At the end of his talk, Crowe encouraged students to always wear their seatbelt and said, “I’ll never give up.”

Plainfield senior Lindsey Mckenna thanked Crowe for sharing his story.  She said that this was the second Backus “Be Aware” program that she has participated in.  Unfortunately however, the experience was more meaningful the second time around because she has lost friends to drunken and distracted driving.

James O’Dea, PhD, MBA, Vice President of Clinical Service Line Development, left the adolescents with a resonating message, asking them to take responsibility for themselves and make good choices. He asked them to go home that evening and sign a contract for life. As he made this request, he said, “It’s about you, we want you to have a plan.”

Crowe made his second appearance at the “Be Aware” program on Wednesday, Nov. 13.  He shared his story with Norwich Tech students – hoping that he could help even one of them to make better choices.