The Brain Injury Ambassador Program, developed through a partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania, is now implemented! The goal of the program is to connect with families and caregivers of a person who has recently experienced a brain injury and let them know that they are not alone – to deliver a message of hope and help. Trained Brain Injury Ambassadors will visit rehabilitation facilities in their region on a regular basis and, with the permission of the families or caregivers, meet and educate them about brain injury services and supports they may need in the future and establish a method for maintaining communication.
We have an enthusiastic and dedicated team of volunteer Ambassadors: Amanda Allemang, Eric Cappos, Kelly Cappos, Rebecca Frick, Elayne Masters, Cindy Clark, Kevin McDonald, Frank Notaro, Joan Steinberg, Meghan Walsh-Folwer, and Steve Witman. The work of the ambassadors began at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, MossRehab, and is ready to begin at Magee Rehab. We are in the process of developing partnerships with other acute rehabilitation facilities across the Commonwealth and will begin contacting families in those facilities as soon as agreements are in place.
While the intent of the program is to go to rehabilitation facilities and meet with families in person, we are not able to do that at this time, given COVID-19 restrictions. Currently, the connections are happening by email and phone, with permission to contact families obtained by a liaison at each facility. We’re mailing materials to families that would typically be given to them at the time of the visit.
Frank Notaro, the Brain Injury Ambassador who contacted the first family that was referred to the program, expressed his sentiments about the work. “I’m doing this to help someone avoid that experience of not know what to do or where to get help, so they don’t have to wait as long as I did to find the support and resources that are out there, and to connect with a community of peers. I think it will be very rewarding to me as an Ambassador as well as beneficial for families.”
We are very excited about this program and its potential to support families and to improve their experience. We’d like to thank the volunteer Ambassadors for their time and work on this important project.