Thursday, April 24, 2014
MetroHealth Trauma Survivors Network: Volunteer
The MetroHealth Trauma Survivors Network was chosen by Crain's as a 2014 Health Care Hero in the category "Volunteer."
Sarah Hendrickson and the MetroHealth Trauma Survivors Network
provide comfort to patients in their darkest hours, with the clear understanding that the trauma of a life-altering injury doesn’t end upon release from the hospital. Her team of volunteers, made up of former trauma patients who are best-positioned to relate to and advise current trauma patients, travel throughout MetroHealth’s trauma bays and intensive care units, providing an ear for worried patients and family members alike. Hendrickson also organizes monthly meetings, allowing survivors to form a community that lasts long after their stay is over.
Pete Soto is one of her volunteers. Soto, a former Lorain and Avon police officer, was gravely injured while responding to a call when his motorcycle crashed into a truck. Soto now spends five hours a week at MetroHealth, counseling patients and their families. He even spoke at the MetroHealth Trauma Survivors Network’s First Annual Meeting, telling attendees how volunteering has changed his life. Given his background in law enforcement, Soto has a unique ability to speak with shooting victims and gang members, entering rooms that many would choose not to enter.
Jen Scibana is another remarkable story. When the car she was riding in skidded into a telephone pole, Scibana was thrown 60 feet out of the back of the vehicle. She broke both of her arms, an especially enormous loss given her career as a hairstylist, and nearly died. Now, she’s the owner and operator of her own hair salon and a volunteer with Hendrickson’s Trauma Survivors Network. She spends approximately three hours a week with patients at MetroHealth. Scibana’s unusual openness allows her to be an especially effective patients’ ally.
Amy Vitelli is a MetroHealth worker, who 14 months after black ice sent her car into a guardrail, is just beginning to work again.
A young mom of two little boys, Vitelli is a powerful source for families to speak with.
Ron Obloy, who broke both legs in a motorcycle accident, is fearless. His willingness to go into anyone’s room makes him the ultimate “workhorse,” according to Hendrickson.
A former high school counselor in southern Ohio, Hendrickson is the program’s mastermind, scanning the trauma rolls every morning and doing her best to mix and match patients and volunteers to ensure her favorite word: connectivity.
The MetroHealth Trauma Survivors Network is supported by a grant from the Department of Defense and is one of only six such programs in the United States. After less than a year in operation, Hendrickson’s team is already nearing 500 patients touched. As Hendrickson reports, volunteers are honored to be taken on and glad to be recognized for their strength of recovery. For patients, the support can be life-changing. Nearly all are grateful for the fact that someone is lending an ear.
“We catch people at a moment of do they let it consume them or do they conquer it,” Hendrickson said.
Hendrickson and the MetroHealth Trauma Survivors Network were previously featured in The Plain Dealer.
The MetroHealth Trauma Survivors Network is the second of four Health Care Hero winners from MetroHealth. We will be featuring all the winners as the awards luncheon approaches on May 15.