Cindy Pawlcyn

Cindy Pawlcyn

It was a beautiful, crisp Sunday afternoon on April 6, 2014, when well-known restaurateur Cindy Pawlcyn and her husband, John Watanabe, were enjoying a drive along Highway 121 in Carneros. Suddenly a driver pulled into their lane from the opposite direction, slamming into their car head-on. Cindy suffered 26 fractures from her neck down.

"There was impact, and then it was really dark, then really quiet. I recall opening my eyes and saying to John, 'I can't breathe.' I have never been in that kind of horrific state, where I felt like, God, you know this is really close," Cindy says. "I remember being in the ambulance. They were deciding where to take me, and I told them, 'I want to go to the Queen’.”

Queen of the Valley Medical Center "didn't miss a beat" from the moment she was brought into the Gasser Emergency Department, Cindy says. "I remember the doctors treating me like I was okay. That kept me from being scared—and I was really scared."

Andrew Fenton, MD, Emergency Department Medical Director at the time, was in charge that day. "We did extensive imaging of Cindy's skeletal and organ systems. I was particularly worried that the shear forces she suffered would affect major blood vessels," he says and adds, “Thankfully for Cindy, the Queen was totally prepared. The fact is, for a community of our size, it's highly unusual to have a trauma center of this caliber, with all the service lines in place to support the complete needs of severely injured emergency patients like Cindy.”

After multiple surgeries and a long hospitalization, then months of rehabilitation, Cindy was back to cooking up a storm at her legendary Yountville restaurant Mustards Grill – and back to generously supporting the community.

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