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Dignity Health CEO: ‘We see miracles everyday’

PHOENIX — Over 50 years ago, philanthropist Charles Barrow, Dr. John Green and Sister Mary Placida brought brain injury care to Arizona, care one University of Arizona student may not be alive without.

In October 2011, then 21-year-old Sam Schmid, a University of Arizona student, was in a car accident. His friend and roommate were killed, while Schmid was airlifted to Barrow Neurological Institute. He remained in a coma for weeks and his family didn’t think he was going to live.

Cue Dr. Robert Spetzler, director of the Barrow Neurological Institute.

The renowned neurosurgeon examined Schmid and sent him for a new brain scan. He then advised the family to wait one more week, because he thought they were on the verge of a breakthrough, said Linda Hunt, senior vice president of operations, president and CEO of Dignity Health in Arizona.

“Within 24 hours, [Schmid] began by wiggling two fingers and then began to awaken,” Hunt said. “He’s had tremendous injury, but because of our rehab, because of all of the things Barrow could bring to him and his family, he is making a recovery.”

It’s taken a few years, but due to the extensive and intensive rehab options and the dedicated and careful care of Barrow doctors, Schmid is ready to resume his life.

“He’s ready to go back to Tucson, to go back to college, and to go to work, and everyday he says, ‘Thank you, Dr. Spetzler, you saved my life,'” she said.

From babies to the elderly, Hunt said that Schmid is just one of the astounding success stories she has seen at Barrow.

“We have, I think, an incredible jewel around acute and chronic rehab. It has been wonderful,” she said. “We see miracles happen everyday.”