International Burn Survivor Gathering Focuses on Need for More Long-term Recovery Services
Providence, RI – A severe burn can be one of the most devastating injuries that a human body can suffer, both physically and emotionally. Medical advancements have improved survival rates over 96% (American Burn Association) in U.S. Burn Centers. But survival is not enough. There is a growing need and a demand to provide emotional support and recovery resources for burn survivors and their families as they endure the reality of lifelong healing from a burn injury. This is the message that more than 900 burn survivors and their families, caregivers, burn care professionals and firefighters will share with the world at the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivor’s 28th annual Phoenix World Burn Congress on October 19 to 22 at the Omni Providence Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island.
Phoenix Society has been leading the way to change this reality. Since 1977, the Phoenix Society has provided crucial information, resources and peer support to those impacted by burn injuries so they can live full, happy and productive lives. Phoenix Society works closely with allied organizations, health care professionals and the fire industry to develop and provide these long-term recovery and support programs—so that no survivor has to struggle alone and be isolated in their journey of burn recovery.
Phoenix Society is expanding its vision to unite the burn community to ensure that people across the globe have access to lifelong healing, optimal recovery resources and burn prevention.
One example of evolution in the area of long-term recovery programming is the growth of Phoenix SOAR (Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery), the Phoenix Society’s hospital-based peer support program. Phoenix SOAR was developed and introduced in hospitals over 10 years ago and offers one-on-one support from a trained, peer supporter volunteer who’s “been there”. Our lead sponsor, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, implemented this hospital-based program in 2013, joining 64 other centers across the country that are now providing critical programming supporting long-term recovery of thousands. This program is now under development to offer real- time, virtual support in even the most remote locations.
With the advancements in burn care, survivors like Gina Russo, who suffered third-and fourth-degree burns over 40% of her body as a result of The Station fire in 2003, have survived. Her surface burns and internal injuries from toxic smoke inhalation were so severe that her family was notified that she would not survive. Thankfully, Gina did not die—she spent 11 weeks in a medically induced coma and credits her survival and physical recovery to the amazing care of medical staff and the love and support from her family. She also credits her emotional recovery and ability to get-back-to-living to the Phoenix Society. “It wasn’t easy. The recovery was overwhelming, both physically and emotionally,” Gina said. “My survival would not have been this good without the help of the Phoenix Society.”
With the support of the Phoenix Society’s Phoenix SOAR peer support program and the resources and support from Phoenix World Burn Congress, Gina was able to get back to living. She returned to her job at Rhode Island Hospital; recently celebrating 30 years of service. “It took me over 3 years to return to my ‘new normal’ life,” she said. Gina met and married her husband in 2007, and her sons are now successful adults. “I first attended Phoenix World Burn Congress as a survivor, but now I have returned multiple times as a volunteer—my son Alex was able to attend this past year and was really inspired by his experience! I am also a proud Phoenix SOAR peer supporter offering assistance to new burn patients and their families.”
Gina explains that she looks forward to Phoenix World Burn Congress returning to her home state of Rhodes Island and said, “The Congress is a chance for burn victims to become burn survivors. Lifelong friendships are made and families, teens and children can truly see that they are ‘not alone’ in the world of burn survivors!”
Phoenix Society has been closely involved with the Rhode Island burn community for nearly 15 years. “The Rhode Island community is only too aware of the physical and emotional challenges of healing from the lifelong effects of a burn injury,” said Amy Acton, executive director, Phoenix Society. “Phoenix Society is committed to ensuring that every burn survivor and their loved ones have the necessary support and resources they need to recover and live fulfilling lives. We work to support individual survivors and families and build partnerships with the burn centers, fire service and community leaders to make lasting change—not just here in Rhode Island, but throughout the country and around the globe. We are determined to bring resources and support to survivors and their loved ones in even the most remote locations—because survival is not enough.”
Phoenix World Burn Congress is one of the most important events of the year for burn survivors and their families. It is an opportunity to share experiences, increase knowledge about recovery and learn about the growing burn support network.
This year’s lead sponsors include Johnson Controls, Spaulding Hospital, and Boston Firefighters Burn Foundation.
“Phoenix Society and its Phoenix World Burn Congress is a valued partnership, and Johnson Controls is proud to support burn survivors and their families on the path to recovery,” said Grady Crosby, vice president of Public Affairs, Johnson Controls.
“We see the enormous impact the Phoenix Society has on our patients and their families every day at Spaulding,” said Dr. Jeffrey Schneider, Medical Director, Burn and Trauma Rehabilitation Program at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School. “The peer support and resources the Phoenix Society provides is a critical part of our patients’ recoveries. We are honored to support the Phoenix Society’s World Burn Congress as they come to New England. All of us at Spaulding look forward to participating in this annual transformative event that advances the quality of life for burn survivors and the science that drives the care we provide.”
During the four-day conference, sessions will cover topics for adults ranging from social challenges, such as dealing with anxiety and psychological pain after hospital discharge, to a young adult program helping survivors ages 18 to 25 build confidence, foster personal growth and enhance communication skills. A special youth and family program for children 7-to-17-years-old will help family members learn how a burn injury impacts the entire family. Burn survivors can also attend a private creative cosmetics and color analysis consultation. In addition, survivors can gain knowledge about advocacy roles to raise awareness about burn prevention programs. A special Walk of Remembrance will be held October 19, 2016 to pay tribute to the lives lost from burn injury.
For more information, or to view a copy of the program brochure including the workshops, bios and schedule of events, visit www.phoenix-society.org/wbc2016/.
Connect with us at:
Twitter: @psburnsurvivors, #phoenixwbc
Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors - People who suffer burn injuries often have a challenging time getting back to living. Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors helps them do exactly that. Since 1977, the Phoenix Society has worked with survivors, families, healthcare professionals, firefighters and donors to support burn recovery, improve the quality of burn care and prevent burn injuries. We are the only non-profit organization helping survivors meet their challenges with the community support and the tools they need to thrive again. Phoenix Society, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, takes its name from the legendary bird that is consumed by flame but rises again, more vibrant than before. To learn more, visit www.phoenix-society.org.