Trauma Services

Trauma Services

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Tips to Lower Toddlers' Choking Risks

As curious young children explore their environment, they put food and other objects in their mouths that can stick in their windpipe (trachea) and make it difficult or impossible for them to breathe. Choking sends thousands of infants and toddlers to emergency rooms each year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and other agencies, such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission, have worked for years to warn parents and child caregivers and to improve the safety of toys and products.

Monitor mealtimes

Before age 4, children aren't able to grind their food into small pieces. Protect your child by creating a safe eating environment and avoiding certain foods until your child is age 4.

At meals:

  • Supervise your child. Don't leave your child alone while he or she is eating.

  • Sit your child upright in a high chair.

  • Discourage eating and talking at the same time.

  • Cut your child's food into small pieces until his or her molars come in.

  • Stop your child from running with food in his or her mouth.

Do not allow a child younger than age 4 to have these foods:

  • Hot dogs

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Chunks of peanut butter

  • Chunks of meat or cheese

  • Popcorn, pretzels, potato chips, corn chips, and similar snack foods

  • Hard, gooey, or sticky candy

  • Whole grapes

  • Raisins

  • Raw vegetables, especially hard ones

  • Chewing gum

If hot dogs are the only food you have, remove the tough skin and cut the meat into small pieces.

Keep small objects out of little hands

Although food is the most common cause of choking in small children, other objects are also a threat. Keep small household items and toys with small removable parts out of toddlers' reach. Be sure to remove common offenders, such as uninflated or broken balloons, coins, marbles, tiny balls, pen caps, button-type batteries, and pins. Balloons are the toys most commonly involved in fatal choking accidents. If a child bites on an inflated latex balloon, it can pop, enter the lungs, and choke the child. Broken pieces of a balloon can also be dangerous if a young child picks one up and puts it in his or her mouth.

Choking emergencies

Choking can occur even if you take precautions. If your child has a forceful cough and is crying or vocal, let the child get the food or object out. If your child can't make a sound, have someone call 911 or your local emergency number, while you do the Heimlich maneuver. Learn the version that's right for your child's age. The American Heart Association provides standard procedures for choking victims of all ages. Once the food or object comes out, take your child to the health care provider. A piece of the object may remain in the lung; only a health care provider can tell if your child is OK. 

An Experienced Team Of Trauma Professionals

A traumatic injury is never planned and can happen at anytime, anywhere. It could be internal injuries from a motor vehicle crash, gunshot wound, knife or burns from a fiery explosion. Maybe it is bleeding in the brain or multiple broken bones from a fall. A trauma is a life or limb threatening injury, so severe that the body's systems begin to shut down.

No matter how it happens, you would want an experienced trauma team of medical professionals, who have seen it all. That's what you will find at the Level 1 Trauma Center at Broward Health Medical Center.

Trauma is a surgical specialty that is vastly different from routine emergency care. Hospital emergency departments are equipped to treat everything from a headache to a heart attack. An emergency department is NOT a trauma center. A trauma center treats those suffering from an injury so severe that it could cause death if not attended to within the first 60 minutes.

To receive designation of "Trauma Center", a hospital has to meet strict standards established by the Florida Department of Health, based on the guidelines of the American College of Surgeons. Currently, there are 27 state-approved trauma centers strategically located across Florida. Broward Health Medical Center is one of only 7 Level 1 trauma centers in the State of Florida.

Broward County residents are fortunate. We have three highly rated trauma centers, two of which are part of Broward Health. No matter where you are in Broward County, one of those trauma centers is just minutes away.


Care for trauma victims has been provided by Broward Health Medical Center since 1993 as a Level II Trauma Center. In 1998 our institution was accredited by the state of Florida as a Level I Trauma Center, the largest in Broward County.  The Trauma Center at Broward Health Medical Center is the only one treating pediatric patients in the northern two-thirds of the county and is equipped to treat the youngest trauma patients. Today Broward Health Medical Center is one of only 7 facilities in Florida to attain this high level of trauma accreditation.  

In December 2005 our Trauma Center facility was inaugurated to expand and improve our capabilities of providing the highest level of care to trauma victims. This expansion included 4 state of the art trauma/resuscitation rooms and 6 observation rooms dedicated to the care of trauma patients allowing us to manage multiple injured patients or mass casualty disasters. The Intensive Care Unit was also expanded to 24 private beds. A dedicated operating room suite is also available just for trauma patients 24 hours a day.

Find out more about the Clinical Services and Patient Care Services available at our Trauma Center, or learn about how Trauma Centers link to Emergency Medical Services.

Trauma Center Medical and Administrative Staff

Medical Staff
Ivan Puente MD, FACS, Trauma Medical Director
Pedro Gonzalez MD, Associate Trauma Medical Director
Michael Parra, MD, Trauma Research Director
Edgar Rodas, MD
Ralph Guarneri, MD
Ronald Moore, MD
Joseph Catino, MD
Michele Markley MD, Pediatric Trauma Medical Director
Roberto Puglisi, MD, Pediatric Surgery
David Lasko, MD, Pediatric Surgery
John Karpiak, ARNP, Trauma Nurse Practitioner
Fahim Habib, MD, Assistant Research Director, Director of Trauma/Surgical Education
Marko Bukur, MD

Administrative Staff
Robyn Farrington, RN, BSN, MBA/HCM, Trauma Program Manager
Mary Chabriel, RN, Trauma Quality Management Specialist
Michelle Melichar, RN, Trauma Quality Management Specialist
Carolyn Edwards, MSW, Trauma Social Worker
Joanne Puia, RN, Trauma Nurse Outreach/Research Coordinator
Samua Scavella, Administrative Assistant
Denise Richards, Trauma Registrar
Veneice Walcott, Trauma Registrar
Jeanne Jenkins, Trauma Registrar

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