Trauma survivor thanks Baystate staff for help provided after car crash

It’s National Trauma Survivors’ Day and Baystate Health celebrated those survivors and their achievements in recovery on Wednesday.
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 4:24 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - It’s National Trauma Survivors’ Day and Baystate Health celebrated those survivors and their achievements in recovery on Wednesday.

February 24, 2022 started out as a normal day for Alicenne Cote of Palmer until the car she was riding in, with her best friend behind the wheel, rolled over. The memory of that traumatic crash is still a blur for Cote.

“I do remember watching the car go off the road and then everything went black and I was not awake, but I could hear all the glass smashing and I kept just trying to tell myself in my head like ‘Oh, it’s okay. It’s okay. It’s fine. We’re okay,’ and then everything went black, everything kind of went quiet for a second, then I opened my eyes and I was looking up at the sky,” Cote said.

Now, just over a year later, Cote has one wish.

“I just wish I could say thank you to all the plastic surgeons and the trauma team,” Cote added.

On Wednesday, that wish came true.

“You have no idea. It actually changed my whole perspective with everything. I want to go into the medical field so bad now,” Cote said.

Although she’s still overcoming her trauma, Cote told Western Mass News that surviving the car crash changed her life in many positive ways, including a career change.

“I was actually originally going to school at Westfield State University for criminal justice and I had to take the last year off prior to the accident and I think the accident definitely showed me that the medical field really does do so much for people…Definitely got my mind to think like I want to help people the way that they helped me,” Cote explained.

Dr. Edward Kelly, chief of the division of trauma surgery at Baystate Medical Center, was one of the surgeons on Cote’s case and he told Western Mass News that outcomes like these are what keeps him going.

“It’s why I come into work. We get the opportunity to see patients often at the very worst day of their life to do interventions that make a difference,” Kelly said.

Kelly told us that Cote suffered several injuries including severe damage to her scalp and detachment of her ear, but thanks to the team at Baystate, they were able to save her life.

“If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have my ear and it wouldn’t be looking like an ear,” Cote said.

Baystate Medical Center is the only level one trauma center in western Massachusetts. Trauma program manager Kristina Grochowski told Western Mass News that Baystate’s trauma center serves over a million people including Massachusetts and bordering states and in 2022, the hospital saw close to 3,000 traumas.

“We support all of our community hospitals in trauma care, education, and support, as well as our community,” Grochowski said.

Now, Cote had a message for fellow trauma survivors.

“I know I haven’t fully gotten over it yet. There’s still certain days that are a lot harder than others and there’s certain things that will happen that will trigger certain things, but it’s just about the way you kind of go through it and how you handle it,” Cote noted.