After a traumatic car accident, a Bonners Ferry teen defies the odds thanks to the love and support of her community.
Kelsey Shutes is a lucky girl. She is a high school graduate with a loving family, winning cheer squad and thousands of friends – 3,868 of them according to her Facebook page. But even more, Kelsey has a second chance and a team of trauma experts that made that possible.
On February 8, Kelsey drove home from Moscow after competing in the district cheerleading competition where her squad, the Bonners Ferry Badgers, won and sealed a place in the state competition. Just a few miles from her home, Kelsey was involved in a head-on collision and was seriously injured. Due to the severity of her injuries, she was airlifted to Kootenai Health where she remained for three weeks.
“We lived at the hospital during that time,” Kelsey’s mother, Carrie, said. “The nurses even turned their break room into a mini hotel room so we could be close to her. They treated us like family.”
Kelsey’s father, George, was also impressed with the amount of care and attention his daughter received during their stay.
“The nurses went beyond her health care,” he said. “They took an interest in her as a person and went so far as to brush and braid her hair. We had the same experience with her physicians. Even after their part was done, Drs. Holman and Ganz continued to visit and check in to make sure she was okay. It’s strange to say, but this wasn’t a bad experience.”
Kelsey’s sister, Lexi, started a “Pray for Kelsey” Facebook page that ended up with a total of – you guessed it – 3,868 followers from all over northern Idaho. Prayers, photos and well wishes still grace it today. Along with the Pray for Kelsey page, an account was started to help raise money for medical bills – raising over $10,000.
“We can’t say thank you enough to everyone,” George said. “We really can’t.”
Not long after Kelsey’s accident, Kootenai was verified as a Level III Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma. To receive verification, Kootenai had to prove it has the hospital resources needed for trauma care and can provide the entire spectrum of care to meet all of an injured patient’s needs. Reviewers evaluated every phase of trauma patient care.
“The trauma team extends far beyond the emergency room,” said D’Arcy Luckett, BSN, trauma program manager at Kootenai Health. “For Kelsey, this trauma team started with the EMS and emergency crew in Bonners Ferry, her MedStar team, and Kootenai’s trauma team which includes everyone and every aspect of care from our emergency staff to the ICU, and finally her rehabilitation at the new Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest in Post Falls. It’s a much larger team than you’d think.”
Today Kelsey is happy and healthy. While she still has no recollection of being in the hospital, she is grateful for the care she received and continues to be humbled by the outpouring of love and support as she continues on her journey to a full recovery.
“When I came home people were lining the streets, signs were everywhere, I felt a little like a celebrity,” Kelsey said. “It was weird, my mom and I went back to the hospital and a lot of the nurses got excited to see me but I couldn’t remember who they were. I felt like I needed to thank them for what they did for me.”