NORTH AUGUSTA, SC – Around 20 burn patients and doctors from Joseph M. Still Burn Center are reuniting at the Augusta GreenJackets game on Friday, April 19. This is all coordinated by the Burn Foundation of America, and gives survivors a chance to mingle with the medical teams who saved their lives in a setting outside of the hospital.
Burn survivors in attendance come from all over the United States. As the largest burn center in the nation, Joseph M. Still treats patients from various backgrounds. The event gives burn victims a chance to exchange stories with each other, while bonding over the shared experience of recovering.
One burn survivor, Kevin Vann, said, “To hear other people’s stories and how they pull through, it’s inspiring.” Vann was in the hospital for 144 days after suffering his burn. He said, “A pump exploded and I was covered 80% in molten plastic. (I’ve had) right at 39 surgeries. I was in a coma for 72 days.” Now, almost three years later, he is able to be outside at a baseball game with other burn survivors. He said, “I had to kind of stay out of the sun and stay inside, so I’m really starting to enjoy myself now.”
Other burn survivors, like 21-year-old Christian Williams, are enjoying their first outings in big crowds since their incidents. Williams said, “Especially for those of us who struggle with being alone and things like that, it gives us a chance to be able to talk to people who are in the same situations.” Williams burned 45 percent of his body on his 20th birthday. Mostly his arms and face were burned. He said seeing other burn survivors out in crowds helps with his anxiety and is inspirational to people.
For physicians, these outings are a nice change when compared to a hospital setting. Dr. Richard Cartie said, “They’re doing well, they’ve been out of the hospital for a period of time which means we get to see them in a totally different state than when we saw them in the hospital.” Dr. Cartie explained that the patients do a great deal of healing once they go home from the burn center. Looking back on it all and spending time with the doctors in an informal setting furthers the impact JMS has on the patients’ lives. Vann said, “From the people that clean the place, to the people who cook the food, to the board of directors, I’m so thankful for them and always will be.”
JMS Medical Director, Dr. Fred Mullins had the honor of throwing the first pitch of the game.