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'I might not have lived'

Congressional candidate Katie Arrington credits proximity of crash scene to MUSC Health with saving her life

Katie Arrington, with campaign manager, Dr. Avery Buchholz and Arrington's husband
Congressional candidate Katie Arrington talks with reporters about her recovery from a June 22 car crash. Campaign manager Michael Mule is on the far left, next to Dr. Avery Buchholz. Arrington's husband Rob is on the far right. Photo by Cindy Abole
Helen Adams | adamshel@musc.edu | July 10, 2018

At a news conference that included both smiles and tears, Republican congressional candidate Katie Arrington thanked the team at MUSC Health for taking care of her after a horrific crash on Highway 17 near Adams Run in Charleston County.

“We have the only Level 1 trauma center in our region, MUSC,” Arrington said. “If I was two to three miles down the road, I might not have lived, because I would have gone to a different hospital before I’d have been medevacked to MUSC.”

MUSC Health was the first program in the state to earn Level 1 trauma center designation and is still the only one in the Lowcountry. It has the highest possible level of surgical care, with specialists and equipment available around the clock, and a Trauma Survivors Network to help people in the aftermath of a serious injury.

Arrington, a state lawmaker who made national news by defeating veteran congressman Mark Sanford in the Republican primary, was headed to Hilton Head to receive an award when a wrong-way driver crashed into the car she was riding in. The June 22 accident killed the wrong-way driver, Helen White, whose son said she had trouble seeing at night. Arrington and the friend who was driving her, Jackie Goff, were seriously hurt.

Two weeks later, as she got ready to head home, Arrington said her thoughts were with Goff, who was still in the hospital, and the family of Helen White.

On a lighter note, she called the neurosurgeon sitting next to her, Avery Buchholz, “Dr. Dreamy,” and MUSC, a “gem.”

Buchholz, part of the team that treated Arrington, said her road to recovery continues. “Realistically, it’s going to be another month or so of her taking it easy and limiting physical activity. Anyone who knows Katie knows she’s going to test those limits and it will not surprise me if she does that. That’s OK. She’s very motivated, she’s very determined, and that’s going to help her in this process.”

At the news conference, Arrington was in a wheelchair with casts on her legs. She’s also recovering from broken ribs, small bowel injuries and more, but said she was ready to return to campaigning. Her general election opponent, Democrat Joe Cunningham, temporarily suspended his campaign while Arrington was in the hospital but has resumed campaigning as well and said he’s praying for her full recovery.

Arrington thanked everybody from the cleaning crew to MUSC President David Cole, M.D., and Patrick Cawley, M.D., chief executive officer of MUSC Health and vice president for Health Affairs, University. “This is not a job for these people. This is a calling. Dr. Cole, it’s amazing what you and Pat have been able to create here. It’s inspiring, it’s life-saving,” Arrington said. “Every day, this hospital is creating and doing miracles.”


Couple hit by car on Sullivan's Island beach wants to help other trauma survivors (MUSC News, May 8, 2018) 

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