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OSUMC Helps Burn Survivors Soar Above All Odds

Armen Hareyan's picture

The Ohio State University Medical Center's Burn Center has implemented a peer support program designed to partner former burn patients with others affected by burn injuries.

The Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery (SOAR) program allows burn survivors or family members, with training from burn center staff, to play a significant role in providing peer support to current burn patients.

"This program empowers caregivers with the necessary information and skills to make the transition from burn victim to burn survivor much easier," says Dr. Sidney Miller, director of the burn center at Ohio State's Medical Center.

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"Those who have successfully recovered from a burn injury find it a valuable experience to be able to offer hope and support to other victims," adds Miller, who also is vice president of the American Burn Association.

After a burn survivor or survivor's family member expresses interest in becoming a program volunteer, a coordinator arranges for the peer supporter to meet the patient or family with whom they will be interacting.

All volunteers and peer supporters go through a screening process and receive training on topics such as working in a hospital setting, the role of the peer supporter, communication skills and the process of psychosocial recovery for patients and families. Ohio State provides eight weeks of instruction through lectures, discussion, case studies and role-playing.

"Time Magazine describes the burn injury as the most painful injury one can go through and the SOAR program hopes to bring to the patient's bedside, a visitor who has been there," Dr. Miller says.