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Patient Stories

Every patient has a story. Read about the experiences of burn survivors who were treated by the excellent physicians and staff at the Saint Francis Memorial Hospital Bothin Burn Center.

Robert Strawder – Burn Survivor

Robert Strawder loves to dance, and after recovering from his burn injury, he practically danced out of the Bothin Burn Center to the joy of his family and friends. Strawder was burned in a house fire in December of 2011 and taken to Saint Francis’s Bothin Burn Center to recover. 

It happened quickly. Strawder had returned from his job counseling at-risk youth only to wake up at 4 a.m. His room was on fire, and so was he. Six weeks later, he woke up at the Bothin Burn Center with second and third degree burns over 70 percent of his body. 

When describing the care delivered by the Burn Center staff Robert states, “Everyone was phenomenal to me and my family.” He had a flood of people who came to support him and the Burn Center staff made it easy for them to be there for Robert. According to Robert, every staff member made each patient feel genuinely special. “At the time I was so angry and unhappy and nasty to everyone, which is just not me. But the staff had unconditional acceptance and told me not to worry about it,” explained Robert. 

Due to his injuries, he was having difficulty getting back on his feet. The therapists worked with him so he could stand and walk but he just couldn’t make it out the door of his room. One night a nurse who was caring for him said: “You look like you like to dance. You are not only going to walk out of this room, you are going to dance again.” This encouragement gave Robert the push he needed. The next day, with the help of his physical therapist, he walked out of his room using the walker the staff had decorated just for him. 

Robert is a courageous burn survivor, but he is not alone. When he attends the monthly Burn Support Group he is inspired by the courage of other survivors and by the courage of those currently healing. 

Lisa Nash – Burn Survivor

For a split second on a sunny Friday morning in downtown San Francisco, Lisa Nash was the unluckiest woman in the world. As she walked across the empty intersection of Kearny and Post, an underground Pacific Gas & Electric transformer exploded. It blew a manhole cover 30 feet into the air, buckled concrete and caught the Internet Marketing Executive in a blast of superheated smoke and flame. 

Having received third-degree burns on her hands, face, back and ankles, she was taken to Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. And just as suddenly, her luck changed again. 

As Nash picked herself up from the street, she opened her eyes and remembered thinking, “Thank God, I can still see.” A female bicycle messenger gingerly guided her to the curb side. A San Francisco Fire Department ambulance crew, driving nearby after just completing a run, heard the explosion and sped to the scene.  

“I think I need to go the hospital,” Nash said, standing with her hair singed off, her face blackened and her right arm shattered. Nash was delicately and quickly whisked up one-way Pine Street eight blocks to Saint Francis Memorial Hospital the only hospital in the Bay Area with a specialized burn unit. She was wheeled through the Emergency Department door at 9:06 a.m., five minutes after the blast. Doctors slipped her into a drug-induced coma and battled to save her. Two-and-one-half weeks later, she woke up. Then her marathon recovery began. 

A team of Saint Francis surgeons performed five major surgeries on Nash. She was burned over 40 percent of her body. Her burned skin was first replaced with high-tech materials made of collagen, which served as a foundation for the skin harvested from healthy parts of her body and grafted about two weeks after the injury. Then the long and painful process of restoring mobility began. Lisa learned how to walk again with the greatest challenge of restoring full mobility to her hands. 

Learn More About The Bothin Burn Center At Saint Francis Memorial Hospital

For more information about the burn center, please call (415) 353-6255