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BCH's Inaugural Trauma Symposium

BCH's Inaugural Trauma Symposium

In a full-day event, the Boulder Community Health (BCH) Trauma Services Department presented a team of experts on a variety of topics around trauma medicine, care and practices. As the first Level II Trauma Center in Boulder County, BCH has sophisticated resources and highly trained medical staff readily available to treat seriously injured patients.

BCH’s first annual symposium presentations included:

Best Practices in Open Fracture Management
Steve Gross, MD – Orthopedic Traumatologist, Orthopedic Trauma Medical Director, Boulder Community Health, Boulder Centre for Orthopedics

Blunt Cerebrovascular Injury
Clay Cothren Burlew, MD, FACS Professor of Surgery – GI, Trauma, & Endocrine CU School of Medicine Anschutz

Damage Control
Shannon Sovndal, MD, Boulder Community Health Emergency Department Physician, EMS Director, Emergency Department Trauma Liaison

Geriatric Trauma
Elizabeth Lycett, MD, Gerontologist, Boulder Community Health

Pediatric Burns
Jennifer J. G. Scott, MSN, RN, CPEN Clinical Program Manager, Burn Program Children’s Hospital Colorado

Toward a Culture of Belonging: Trauma-Informed Care for Queer and Trans Community Members
Sorin Thomas, MA, Somatic Counseling Psychology 

Trauma in Pregnancy
Laura Harmon, MD, FACS General Surgery, Acute Care Surgery, Trauma Surgery, Surgical Critical Care, Trauma Medical Director and Chair of Department of Surgery, Boulder Community Health

A BCH Patient shares his story of trauma. 

Additionally, in a moving story moderated by Aric Parker, BCH Chaplain, and Laura Harmon, MD, BCH’s Trauma Medical Director and Chair of the Department of Surgery, BCH patient and trauma survivor Thomas Mitchell and his partner Nelson Guerra spoke about Thomas’s traumatic injury after being struck by a car in South Boulder, and his care and recovery with BCH and beyond.

On the accident, Dr. Harmon read an excerpt from a letter from Deputy Fire Chief, David Gelderoo. He says:

“All of us have incidents that stick with us long after they occur. This is one of mine.

Mr. Mitchell was driving from point A to point B and got a flat tire. Moments later, his life trajectory was irreversibly changed. I cannot imagine the enormity of how this has impacted him in his relationships, his work, or his day-to-day routine.

These types of calls leave a mark. It’s difficult not to put ourselves in the position of our patient or their loved ones. We walk away knowing we did the right thing but we also walk away with another dozen emotional paper cuts that we try to deal with as best we can.

Our responders and medical professionals know what to do, know how to do it, and do it well. But today, we have an opportunity to honor and appreciate them.

Kudos to our fire department for supplying our fire apparatus with hydraulic rescue tools so we could separate the vehicles.

Kudos to the field team for recognizing what was going on and subtly moving the bystanders away so they wouldn’t suffer secondary trauma.

Kudos to our traffic engineers who have maintained our traffic light preemption system so we can get through town quicker in an emergency.

Kudos to our emergency medical providers, EMS, nurses, physicians, and techs for saving Mr. Mitchell’s life and making sure he is able to speak with us today.

Kudos to the physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, spiritual care associates, prosthetic specialists, and social workers, who ushered Thomas through the healing process.

Kudos to Nelson and the entire Mitchell Tribe who have shown up to love Thomas through this new phase of his life.

And mostly, kudos to Mr. Mitchell, who has demonstrated more strength and courage than we will ever know.

I’m encouraged to hear that Mr. Mitchell is doing well. It’s rare that we are able to follow up with patients after an incident. I am fiercely proud of the people responsible for his care and recovery. Our team is well-educated, highly trained, caring individuals who are part of a highly developed system designed to give patients the best outcome possible, regardless of the nature of the incident.”

Click here to watch the full keynote speech by BCH patient and trauma survivor, Thomas Mitchell and his partner Nelson Guerra.


The bystanders, first responders and the entire medical care team which included over 100 health care professionals, who supported Thomas during the moments and days immediately following the life-changing accident were honored during the symposium with a health care hero pin and applause and appreciation from the entire audience, both in-person and virtual.

It was an educational, emotional and moving day for all.

Boulder Community Health is a Level II Trauma Center

Foothills Hospital provides 24-hour access to high-level emergency medical care from board-certified emergency medicine physicians and specially-trained nurses. We care for patients requiring treatment for everything from broken bones to strokes to life- and limb-threatening injuries. In the event you suffer a serious injury, our expert team of medical professionals are ready to deliver outstanding evaluation, treatment, compassion and care close to home.

As the first Level II Trauma Center in Boulder County, BCH has the sophisticated resources and expertise readily available to treat seriously injured patients.

  • Level II Trauma Center, the highest level in Boulder County
  • Nationally-certified Primary Stroke Center
  • Most comprehensive treatment for heart conditions in Boulder County

We work closely with our local Emergency Medical Services partners -- paramedics and first responders -- to provide the high-quality, prompt care you need.