‘At UF Health, we take care of each other’

Summer is an exciting time of year. Days are spent splashing in the pool, playing at the park and watching stellar sunsets. Some even travel to dream destinations.

Vacations are supposed to be relaxing. Teresa Brown’s last trip was anything but.

Brown, who will celebrate her 9-year anniversary at UF Health Jacksonville in October, was a passenger in a head-on automobile collision while visiting Jamaica last year. As she waited on the side of the road for medical assistance – with what was later diagnosed as a closed femur fracture and two pelvic fractures – questions began to spin inside Brown’s head.

“Would I survive? How would I return to the United States? How would I earn a living and support my two young foster children?” Brown thought.

A judge greets Teresa Brown and a family member after she legally adopted her foster children.

Teresa Brown is the adoptive mother of the two children that were in her foster care. Legal adoption was finalized in June 2022.

It was a nightmare turned reality. An ambulance only showed up after Brown called emergency services on the island. It took two hours for Brown to be transported to a hospital. There was no standard treatment option at the medical facility. And, worst of all, Brown was set to travel to Florida the following day, but the collision delayed her return by five days.

“It was quite a nightmare to be in that type of trauma and stress,” said Brown, who works in Epic IT at UF Health Jacksonville. “It was scary. I thought I wasn’t going to make it.”

Brown spent a week in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., undergoing surgery at a local hospital. Upon returning home, she started receiving care through UF Health Jacksonville’s rehabilitation services. One question loomed: How would she earn a living to support her family?

“My manager was right away getting me leave [time] because we didn’t know how long I was going to be out,” Brown said. “I didn’t have a whole lot of paid time off, and I was getting nervous.”

That’s when Brown learned about the Colleagues Caring for Colleagues, or C3 Fund. The C3 Fund supports UF Health Jacksonville employees who experience financial difficulties due to an unanticipated hardship.

Not only did Brown learn she was eligible, but the C3 Fund gave her hope to be able to pay her rent, support her toddlers and persevere through three-and-a-half months of recovery.

“It shows a level of loyalty that UF Health extends back to employees,” Brown said. “It gave me one less thing [to worry about] during my recovery.”

Two months after the collision, Brown returned to work. The next month, September 2021, she took her first steps without assistance. And, today, Brown is very close to full strength after completing physical therapy.

Teresa Brown's foster children wave their hands.
Teresa Brown’s children.

Ultimately, Brown is thankful for the support she received from UF Health Jacksonville and the C3 Fund during her recovery.

“At UF Health, we take care of each other,” Brown said. “It’s a great opportunity and blessing to be a part of that.”

“Please don’t be afraid to ask for help and support. Know there is always a way and always someone to be a support system here at UF Health.”

Now the adoptive mother of the two children that were in her foster care, Brown is excited to spend many summer days taking her toddlers to the park and the beach. “I love to see them play, go and run up and down the slides,” Brown said with a smile. “I just enjoy seeing them happy and active.”

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Colleagues Caring for Colleagues Fund

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