Nicholas Namias, MD, MBA, FACS, FCCM

In 1989, I became an intern in the General Surgery Residency Program at Jackson Memorial Hospital. It’s been 28 years, and I still love this place now just as much as I did back then. The opportunity to learn general surgery from University of Miami faculty in one of America’s biggest and busiest teaching hospitals was great, but my interest was always in trauma. I thought of it as a seven-year course in surgery, with every rotation in between my trauma rotations as stepping stones to becoming a better trauma surgeon. You all know who we are – we’re the ones who always look exhausted. Thank you to everyone for understanding when we fall asleep in your nursing stations and lounges, on stretchers near our patients, in deep windowsills in the ICU, and once, for me, on the floor in what was then the Pediatric Surgical Special Care Unit because the call room down the hall was just too far away from that sick baby.

Ryder Trauma Center didn’t come about until 1992. Before that, trauma resus was a room off of what is now ER-C, and was then the Surgical Emergency Room. The trauma floor was Jackson Memorial’s South Wing 7, and the ICU patients went to the SICU. When I arrived in 1989, the county-wide trauma system of roughly eight trauma centers had recently collapsed under its own weight, leaving only Jackson to take care of trauma patients. As you can imagine, it was extremely disruptive to routine hospital operations. How Ryder Trauma came about is a separate story, but its opening was game changing for Jackson and all of the residents of what was formally Dade County. From the beginning, it was embraced by the citizens who voted for the “half penny for trauma,” an increase in the sales tax to support this critical community service.

With the opening of Ryder Trauma, the emergency room could decompress, beds once again became available on the surgical floors, and the SICU became available for complex surgical patients. The opening of the trauma center allowed for the concentration of trauma patients in one place, the ability to operate without disrupting the elective surgery schedule, and the concentration of expertise to focus on the injured patient. Although Jackson Memorial was already well known as an excellent trauma hospital, the opening of the freestanding trauma center cemented an international reputation for trauma excellence.

We have been making miracles daily for 25 years. Many of the same faces that opened the trauma center are still here today.

The intense commitment of everyone who works at Ryder Trauma is a testament to the good that we do for the community, one patient at a time, and to the world through the generations of trauma care providers who have learned their profession at the center.

There are Ryder Trauma-trained surgeons throughout the Americas, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, and all are very proud of the fact that their skills were forged at Jackson. It is an indescribable honor to be at the helm of the Ryder Trauma Center today, serving everybody who comes through our doors – both the patients who need us, and the providers who make it all happen. No lifesaving operation can happen without the support of those who fix it, put a shine on it, supply it, staff it, secure it, feed us, and take care of all the business behind it. We have a sacred and serious responsibility. We all too often deliver the worst news of someone’s life; but the miracles we make when we save a life makes it all worth it. Twenty-five years is a great time to stop and reflect – for a moment. Here’s to the next 25.