Dec. 14, 2015, started as any other day in the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center’s emergency department. Eric Heaton, a paramedic, was at a desk in the department’s lobby where patients are checked in when he heard a noise, a scream … and then “the next thing I know, I’m riding on the front of an SUV and being pinned between a door and a car.”
An elderly driver lost control of his vehicle in the hospital’s parking area and drove into the emergency department lobby. Along with Eric, two others were hit by the car or furniture that was sent flying by the car’s impact.
“It was all moving in slow motion to me, but I know it was really fast,” says Eric, who suffered a lacerated spleen, broken radius and ulna in his right arm, a broken right femur and six broken ribs, as well as a collapsed lung. “I went from being an employee to a patient instantly.”
He spent a few days in the hospital’s ICU and then a couple of weeks in rehab. Home recuperation followed, and he eventually returned to work in late March. Six months of unexpected time away from work hit hard, in terms of keeping up with bills and new medical expenses, so he turned to the HCA Hope Fund for help.
“I was trying to focus on healing, and getting everything situated with my bills and living expenses, and the Hope Fund stepped in,” he says. “HCA is like my family, and the Hope Fund represents how a family takes care of its own.”