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Burn Survivors’ Reunion Brings Patients, Care Team, First Responders Together
Honor guard and ‘Walk of Remembrance’ recall patients who died, firefighters killed in the line of duty
- Burn Trauma program at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital treated 174 patients in 2014.
- Leaders of Tidewater Burn Survivors support group took leading role in this year’s 10th annual reunion.
- Burn prevention efforts turn to seniors aging at home.
NORFOLK, VA – They came to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital to honor the living and the dead. Burn survivors, the hospital’s burn trauma team and an honor guard from area fire departments gathered Sunday, March 1, for the 10th annual burn survivors’ reunion.
“It invigorates me to see survivors like this, carrying on with their lives,” said Jay Collins, MD, Sentara burn surgeon and Chief of Trauma and Critical Care at Eastern Virginia Medical School. “It can be a long road to recovery and they’re living normal lives just like you and I do.” The gathering Sunday included a current burn patient just beginning the journey, clad in a hospital gown and towing an IV pole as he enjoyed a buffet lunch.
Survivor Steve Joyner helped organize this year’s event and honor guard. “We felt like it was very important to do a walk of remembrance for not only the victims of fire but also firefighters throughout the United States and the world,” Joyner said.
Joyner and survivor Cliff Golby are founding member of the Tidewater Burn Survivors support group.
“There’s always somebody who has it worse than you, or else they’re exactly like you,” Golby said of the support group. “The sharing and camaraderie are unsurpassed.” The local group includes a burn survivor and volunteer from Halifax, Nova Scotia, who attends monthly meetings by WebEx, a video conferencing system.
Of Sentara Norfolk General’s 174 burn patients last year, 55 were between the ages of 46 and 65 and another 16 were over the age of 65. These statistics reflect a growing concern among burn safety advocates about seniors aging at home, often widowed or divorced. A report by the American Burn Association said diminished eyesight and hearing, prescription medications and the onset of dementia contribute to burn risk and mortality.
“Seniors are not as resilient,” said Dr. Collins. “A lot of them have arthritis or other conditions that make it harder to get up and move around and exercise, so they have a more difficult time than younger patients.”
Dr. Collins urges family members to discuss burn safety with aging parents. The National Fire Protection Association encourages safe cooking methods, uncluttered escape routes, reducing fire risk in bedrooms and keeping a telephone, eyeglasses and a flashlight at the bedside.
“The goal of burn safety is to have fewer patients to invite to our reunion every year,” Dr. Collins said.
About Sentara Healthcare
Sentara Healthcare celebrates a 126-year history of innovation, compassion and community benefit. Based in Norfolk, VA, Sentara is a diverse not-for-profit family of 12 hospitals, the Optima Health Plan, an array of integrated services and a team 28,000 strong on a mission to improve health every day. This mandate is pursued through a disciplined strategy to achieve Top 10% performance in key measures through shared best practices, transformation of primary care through clinical integration and strategic growth that adds value to the communities we serve in Virginia and North Carolina.
About Sentara Norfolk General Hospital
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital supports eastern Virginia’s only Level I Trauma Center and the only Burn program in partnership with Eastern Virginia Medical School. The hospital is home to the Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance, which serves critically ill and injured patients in a 125-mile radius in Virginia and North Carolina as part of the Sentara mission to improve health every day.