VALLEY MEDICAL CENTER:
The Regional Burn Center at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center has just celebrated their 40th Anniversary.
It is one of only two regional burn trauma centers between Los Angeles and the Oregon border;
This eight-bed intensive care unit treats both adults and children;
Regional Burn Center has been specifically designed for the care,
treatment and rehabilitation of thermal, chemical, contact, electrical
and radiation injuries;
addition to specialized clinical professionals, a Psychologist, Social
Worker and a case Manager are part of the team to help patients or
family members deal emotionally and financially with a burn injury.
The medical professionals of the Regional Burn Center are committed
to prevention, research, teaching, care, treatment, and rehabilitation
of burn injuries. The Regional Burn Center follows the established
guidelines of the American Burn Association and practices in a
multidisciplinary team and patient/family-centered approach. With
professional support from other SCVMC departments, including trauma,
psychiatry, opthamology, anesthesia, orthopedics, infectious diseases,
pediatrics, physical therapy, occupational therapy, rehabilitation and
social services, the Regional Burn Center is able to provide immediate
and exceptional care to its patients.
For more information regarding the Regional Burn Center or our services please contact
Jill Sproul via email or call (408) 885-6670.
Thank you. I’ve never been one to consider
myself “strong” or “courageous”. I essentially was born this way and usually shy
away from the notion of being thought of in those terms. I am touched and
honored, although to have my
regional burn unit think of me as so.
I wouldn’t be here on this earth if it
wasn’t for this burn center. I was the 5th patient, injured on
February 7, 1971. I was 18 months old when I reached through my crib and pulled
the cord of the lamp. It fell into my crib and the hot light bulb heated up my
blankets thus starting my fire. Smoke detectors were not invented yet so my
parents didn’t know of the fire until smoke came through their heating vent. My
dad braved the flames and found me unconscious in my crib, next to a melted
I was taken to Valley Med where they took
wonderful care of me. My doctor was Dr. Kerr and then Dr. Pardo and Cookie was
my tech – he’ll tell you he used to change my diapers.
I’ve been told by others how strong they
think I am to go out in this world. Basically saying leaving my house takes
courage. Often those wondered out loud to me and asked where my strength comes
from. My answer was always ‘I don’t know. Guess I was born this way’. Only
recently have I been able to apply more explanation.
Early on in my hospital stay back in
February 1971 the doctors told my parents to prepare to lose their only
daughter. There was little hope I would survive my injuries. Children my age
with 65% body burn usually did not live. My 28 year old mom looked at those
doctors and said “NO! That’s not an option.” She proceeded to re-do my
fire-ravaged bedroom in pink shag carpet, beautiful white with gold fleck trim
furniture. I even had the canopy on my bed. It was perfect. Her little girl had
to be in the hospital for 3 months, endure numerous debridement surgeries,
grafting most of the burn areas with various colored pig skin (that was
temporary) and learn how to walk again. Through all that she never gave up hope.
To this day she is the strongest woman I know.
My entrance into this burn world was
delayed. Although I was injured at the young age of 18 months I didn’t see or
speak to another burn survivor until I was 19 years old. The San Jose Fire
Fighters unknowingly were an integral part in my introduction to this wonderful
group. During the annual SJFF Chili Cook-off I happened to find a burn
foundation booth. The folks working the booth told me about the support group
held at VMC. That’s when I met Jill and Bob and many others like me. I will
forever be grateful to the SJFF as they were instrumental in me finding… ME.
Life as a burn survivor has its ups and
downs and over the years, I’ve struggled trying to find my place in this world –
burned or otherwise. I am
more than my burns. I lived most of my life with my burns in the background. I
had established my self with friends, school, career and love life. As I evolved
and matured into the burn world I’ve finally found where I fit. It’s in
volunteerism and giving back. I was overwhelmingly compelled to get more
involved so I reached out and a wonderful caring group took my hand.
Maybe you don’t know where you fit in yet.
Don’t give up, keep trying new things, introduce yourself to new organizations
and people; but most of all I encourage you to listen to your heart and you’ll
find your inspiration. That burn foundation I found at the chili cook-off so
long ago wasn’t the right place for me and I didn’t give up. I tried again and
again with very positive results. I volunteer my time and talents to a couple of
incredible groups. Over the years I’ve been a camp counselor for burn camp for
kids in Lake Tahoe, help plan a burn survivor family camp and teach digital
photography there too, teach others about the Life of Bonnie by sharing my story
of growing up without a burn community support system. I absolutely love giving
back!! And now am hopefully becoming invaluable to the SJFF.
In 1994 I spoke at the World Burn Congress
held in San Francisco, still very new to the burn world and not at all
comfortable speaking in front of a group. I shared a sad story or two about the
Life of Bonnie; one included a horrible experience I had with my first job at a
fast food chain. They wouldn’t let me serve customers food thinking I’d make
them sick to their stomach. Even with that experience at age 17 and 18 (yes, it
happened twice) I still felt the following: If I had the chance to go back and
change what happened to me, have me be without my scars, I would not do it. I
was (and still am) happy with the person I am today and wouldn’t change anything
that made me this way for the world.
The staff at VMC saved my life back in 1971.
San Jose Firefighters saved my life in 1989 by their dedication to their
community which allowed me to ultimately find my way here tonight. And my mom
continues to this day to save my life through her never-ending strength,
resilience and hope.
So I thank you VMC and San Jose
Firefighter’s Burn Foundation for this humbling recognition and would like to
share it with all of you and Cookie – of course.
425 East Santa Clara St.
Suite 300 | San Jose, CA 95113 | 408.515.7656