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Local nursing graduate overcomes setback

7:58 PM, May 11, 2013   |    comments
  • Elaine Staggs at the Roane State Community College Nursing Class of 2013 Pinning Ceremony.
  • Elaine Staggs in 2011. Photo courtesy of Elaine Staggs.
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Thousands of students took part in graduation ceremonies this weekend.

The Roane State Community College Nursing Class of 2013 Pinning Ceremony included a woman whose journey to this point is what many are calling a miracle.

Elaine Staggs of Nashville suffered from a traumatic car crash in August 2011.

As a student at Roane State, Staggs also worked as an EMT.

During a vacation in New York, Staggs said she pulled over to help a driver in trouble.

While assisting the victim she got hit by a car, throwing her over an overpass.

"I don't remember anything after checking his pulse. I heard a big boom and that was it," Staggs recalled.

From her hips down, everything had shattered.

Staggs almost lost her left leg.

She spent two weeks in a coma, 57 days in the hospital, and went through 16 surgeries.

Almost two years later, she is finally walking on her own with the help of a brace.

"I'm still in physical therapy. It's ongoing. It doesn't end," Staggs said.

Because of the accident, Staggs had to take a year off from college but came back in 2012.

"I never saw her idle or sitting around. If there was something to be done or another procedure to get experience with, she was always there," said Teresa Lucas, a clinical instructor at Roane State Community College.

Staggs said she knows what it is like to be both the caregiver and the patient.

"I think the more trials you have in life, the more you're grateful... Odds were almost completely stacked against me so definitely grateful. So absolutely it [graduating] means more," Staggs said.

Another surgery on her leg is scheduled for July.

Staggs said it should be the last one for a while.

She hopes to help patients with their insurance problems or do home health care.

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