It has been almost eight years since Pat Casey was airlifted to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center following what should have been a simple recovery from two routine procedures performed at another hospital. She experienced a combination of extreme complications including a necrotizing intra-abdominal infection, severe septic shock, and respiratory failure.
From April to December of 2013, Pat underwent 23 surgical and interventional procedures, nearly 60 CT Scans and X-rays, and relied on breathing support. It was a long and difficult recovery, but she survived and remains forever grateful for the advanced care she received at Shock Trauma.
Since 2014, Pat and her husband, Joe, have made a generous gift every year in honor of the Shock Trauma Center and Acute Care/Emergency Surgery team. Jose J. Diaz, MD, chief of the Division of Acute Care Surgery, explains that the Casey’s steadfast generosity has enabled his team to develop new skills and techniques to treat patients with similar severe conditions. Philanthropic support is essential for advancing research, education, and clinical trial opportunities.
“There are patients and families who have survived a catastrophic or lifechanging event that has impacted their lives and they want to give back,” Dr. Diaz says. “It is those patients who create a special meaning for the care they receive and give us hope and direction in continuing our mission. We very much appreciate Pat and Joe’s longstanding commitment to our program. It is very meaningful to us.”
Pat: How are you feeling since your visit to Shock Trauma several years ago?
I have a new normal (a reboot of Pat Casey 1.0) and that new normal means I rarely have pain that can be attributed to my time in Shock Trauma, but I sometimes have discomfort and always have awareness that my body is slightly different. Am I better than I was before my time in Shock Trauma? Yes and no. “Yes” because the experience made me aware of and sensitive to medical issues and “No” because it has created a few limitations. What limitations I have do not stop me from doing most activities that interest me even when there is discomfort—taking the boat down the Intracoastal Waterway; trips to visit family in various states; trips to New Mexico, Barbados, France, Germany, Bermuda, London, and Portugal (I never knew Portugal was so hilly); numerous trips on the boat in the Chesapeake Bay; and attending events with friends in Annapolis (dinners, lectures, symphony, and local theater). My experience with a serious medical issue has given me empathy for anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation and has put into perspective other annoyances in life; i.e., COVID-19.
How have you both fared during COVID-19?
Joe and I are doing well during this time—we wear masks, keep our distance, wash and/or sanitize our hands frequently, avoid crowds, have been tested a couple of times (negative), and await vaccination.
In the beginning we, like many others, were busy making masks for our local first responders, making bread, cookies and pizza, doing jigsaw puzzles, etc. Some of these things have waned, but Pat continues as the historian for a social organization in Annapolis and is an avid amateur photographer with Joe patiently stopping for her to shoot and carrying her tripod. Joe continues on the board of the West River Sailing Club and recently completed six years on their condo board. We Zoom with family and friends. We support the local restaurants with mostly takeout orders; but, in warmer weather we sometimes eat outside during off hours when there are fewer people.
We often “social distance” on our boat. Although not quite the same as rafting boats together with friends and gathering on one boat to share food and stories, meeting our boating friends in areas where we can arrange chairs at a social distance on the ground is the best we can do right now—and that’s ok. We really miss seeing family in person, socializing with friends in Annapolis and on boats around the bay, and travel. This is where the experience in Shock Trauma is paying dividends—we know it could be much worse and we can wait for it to get better.
Since 2014, you have made a generous gift to Shock Trauma every year. Why do you continue to give?
Because Pat continues to live and we are grateful. That’s not meant as a flippant response. It encapsulates the idea of not just being alive, but being able to live. Shock Trauma kept Pat alive and provided an extra margin of “being alive” to allow us to get her to living.
In general, why is philanthropy important?
Perhaps Pat’s mother summed it up best when she told Pat many years ago that she didn’t care what Pat believed in, but Pat needed to believe in something outside herself because while Pat was the center of her mom’s universe, she was not the center of the universe. Philanthropy, at any level, allows you to demonstrate that you understand and accept that you are not the center of the universe.