For The Leader
Memorial Hermann Greater Heights
Andrew Braunschweig is living proof that minutes matter in a medical emergency. After falling backward from a height of 16 feet onto concrete flooring at work, he arrived at the Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital Emergency Center in critical condition.
The Emergency Center staff played a pivotal role in Braunschweig’s full recovery from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal fractures by administering fast and expert care. Today, the 26-year-old is back at work, traveling and spending time with family and friends.
Braunschweig remembers nothing about the October 2014 accident, but Emergency Center nurse Courtney Richter does. “Initially, Andrew was fairly responsive, but then his speech started to slur, and we received the results of the CT scan that showed a large brain bleed,” says Richter.
The Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Emergency Center team worked quickly to prepare Braunschweig for transport to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. They briefed Ryan Kitagawa, M.D., a neurosurgeon affiliated with the Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann-TMC, on their patient. Concurrently, they finally reached Braunschweig’s parents, Robin and Joe, who began an anxiety-filled drive from San Antonio to Houston.
Road to Recovery
“Receiving calls from Dr. Kitagawa, a nurse and from one of Andrew’s co-workers, while en route to Houston, we knew his condition was really bad,” recalls Robin. “Dr. Kitagawa wanted us to see Andrew before starting surgery but explained a time would come where he couldn’t wait any longer. That time came before Joe and I reached the hospital.”
Following a seven-and-a-half-hour surgery to remove damaged portions of Braunschweig’s skull and brain, Robin and Joe met Dr. Kitagawa. Learning about their son’s multiple brain and spinal fractures and how these injuries might alter his cognitive and physical abilities, Robin later wrote on social media, “The depth and pain of despair were beyond words.”
Over the next 36 weeks, Braunschweig underwent three more brain surgeries at Memorial Hermann-TMC and extensive rehabilitation therapy at TIRR Memorial Hermann. Robin resigned from her job and moved to Houston to care for her son.
Learning of Emergency Care
One day, while accompanying Braunschweig to rehabilitation therapy and grateful for his record-breaking progress, Robin expressed thanks to her son’s case manager Amy for Dr. Kitagawa. That’s when she learned of the emergency care provided by Memorial Hermann Greater Heights.
“Amy was emphatic that much of Andrew’s outcomes revolved around what happened in the original ER,” says Robin. “From everything she’d read, Andrew’s treatment and transit occurred in record time.”
Knowing Memorial Hermann Greater Heights played such a significant role in Braunschweig’s recovery, Robin vowed that her family would personally thank the staff who helped save his life. This emotional reunion took place on the accident’s first anniversary.
“It meant the world to us for the family to come back and thank us,” says Richter. “We’re honored to have played a part in Andrew’s great story.”
“It was good to see the smiles of the emergency staff and know I’m a success story,” adds Braunschweig. “I feel great and have a few limitations, but nothing that has altered my life dramatically.”
Reflecting on her son’s journey, Robin says, “The culture of caring within Memorial Hermann was absolutely apparent. We are very grateful to a lot of people.”
To learn more about the Level III Trauma Center and other services available at Memorial Hermann Greater Heights, visit memorialhermann.org/heights.