before Florida native Nick Battles
was to graduate from boot camp, an
accident transformed him from
being an athletic to being a
spinal cord injury victim.
was on track to fulfilling a dream
to become a Marine. On Nov. 9 he
suffered a severe spinal cord
injury during a training exercise.
Battles was quickly transported
from Beaufort to Charleston and
treated at MUSC's Neurosciences
Intensive Care Unit (NSICU).
During the next
five weeks, Battles got the
support of nurses, physicians,
pharmacists, patient aides,
respiratory therapists and other
specialists who rallied around him
and his family.
Wendy Battles gives
her son, Nick, a donated
Christmas tree created by
members of the Council of Garden
Clubs of Greater Charleston.
With Nick is nurse Megan Withers
and visitors from his boot camp
news of Battles' injury, his
family came to Charleston to give
him their support. His mother,
Wendy, was relieved to find out
about MUSC's reputation as the
Lowcountry's only Level 1 trauma
center and that the NSICU provides
the highest level of care for the
most critically injured patients.
"The care at
MUSC has been amazing for both
Nick and our family. This is
Nick's first experience in a
hospital. We're so grateful to so
many people who've been involved
with his care or have shown
support to him in some capacity.
It's a tragic situation, but we
feel truly blessed."
NSICU team worked in managing
Battles' pain, swelling and
bruising from his injury. Later,
he underwent successful spine
surgery where surgeons realigned
and fused a cervical fracture in
his neck. Next, Battles began
physical therapy to increase his
range-of-motion and to do
strengthening exercises and other
Danielle Prox was Battles' primary
nurse in the unit. To her, he was
an ideal patient. "He has the most
amazing positive attitude that
I've seen in anyone. It's been a
pleasure to care for someone who's
that appreciative and sincere
about the care they receive
whether it's from me, a colleague
or anyone on his care team."
Corps family also remained by his
side. Just a week after Battles
was supposed to graduate, he got a
visit from Marine Corps leaders
and his battalion senior drill
instructor. They presented him
with the Corps' eagle, globe and
anchor pin and promotion to the
rank of private first class.
Holderfield has served as the
unit's nurse manager since 2007
and considers herself a Battles
"fan." For the five weeks that he
has been on the unit, she's taken
a back seat role as a quiet
supporter to her talented
41-member staff. Holderfield was
credited in 2009 to leading her
staff in receiving the Beacon
Award, a national recognition for
achieving critical care excellence
for best patient care practices
something about Nick that draws
people to him. He's respectful,
polite and sincere. He possesses
all the qualities that are taught
in the Marine Corps — honor,
respect, duty and discipline — and
it shows. Nick's presence has
brought out the best in each of
us, and it's heartwarming to see."
As the days
drew closer for Battles' transfer,
his mother worried that he may not
receive the same level of care at
his new location, the James A.
Haley Veteran's Hospital in Tampa.
She was assured that the
University of South
Florida-affiliated hospital was
among the best in the area and
it's located near his father's
director and Battles' physician
Julio Chalela, M.D., is a senior
Army reservist and surgeon.
Battles' youth and presence on the
unit reminded Chalela of the fit
Marine and Army recruits he'd care
for during his deployments to
Iraq. "I was impressed with their
sense of duty, courage and
commitment to country even in the
toughest of situations. Nick's
presence on the unit reminded me
of that, and it was inspiring to
all of us."
On Dec. 14,
Battles said goodbye to his MUSC
friends as he turned another
corner in his journey to recovery.
For 2012, his wish is simply to
get better. "I hope to push myself
more in every challenge that comes