HomeNews & TopicsPatient CareNew group provides resources and peer support for trauma survivors

New group provides resources and peer support for trauma survivors

Published on

By Kelly O’Brien

After she was hit by a garbage truck in 2012, doctors told Margaret Harvey’s husband she had only a 30 per cent chance of survival.

Harvey pulled through, but the road to a full recovery would prove long and difficult, both physically and emotionally.

After being treated for a few weeks at St. Michael’s Hospital, she was transferred to another hospital, and then a private retirement home to complete her rehabilitation. When she returned home, she realized how much her trauma had changed her life.

“I thought that when I went home, I would be better, but I wasn’t, and it took me a while to realize that things were just beginning,” she says.

She tried to go back to work, at the Terry Fox Foundation, but she said even one day a week was too much for her, so she was forced to take medical leave. It was then that she discovered the Trauma Survivor Network.

“I felt so alone, and I thought, who has been through this? I need to talk to somebody so I can know how this is going to end for me,” she says. “I couldn’t sleep and I was up all night, so I went online and found it, and I thought, this is exactly what I need.”

However, there was no Trauma Survivor Network branch in Canada. She approached St. Michael’s Hospital with the idea of establishing a group to connect outpatient trauma survivors with support services.

The group, called My BeST (Beyond Surviving to Thriving), is being organized by Harvey and Amanda MacFarlan, a trauma registry manager and quality improvement specialist at St. Michael’s, along with a committee including social workers, trauma surgeons, psychiatrists, physiotherapists, patient experience advisers and spiritual care providers.

The group will help trauma survivors manage the psychological and social impact of their injuries.

“You can fix bones and you can fix muscles, but you also need to treat minds, and you need to respect that when someone goes through a physical trauma, their whole life could change on a dime,” says Harvey.  “How are you going to deal with that?”

How people deal with trauma is determined by a number of different factors, Harvey said. She was lucky to have the resources necessary to seek out the treatment she needed. My BeST aims to help people who don’t have access those resources on their own.

“I was so lucky that I had a home, money, kids, people around me, I had lots of support,” she says. “But a lot of people don’t have any of that, and trauma has very real impacts on peoples’ mental health, so it’s something that needs to be addressed.”

Harvey said she wants people to understand that post-traumatic growth is possible.

“People go through trauma every day, and they can move past it, but first they need to address it,” she says.  “If we offer the help and people seek the help, they can improve, they’re not doomed to have post-traumatic stress disorder forever. You can move on from that.”

Kelly O’Brien works in communications at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Latest articles

New technology enhances cardiac care

Humber River Health recognizes that modern challenges are best met with modern solutions, and...

IPAC Canada Develops Essential New Course to Support Long-Term Care Infection Prevention and Control Leads

Infection Prevention and Control Canada (IPAC Canada) is launching a comprehensive training program tailored...

New technology for advancing inclusive, equitable care

An imaging device developed by an Ontario start-up company is being studied at Hamilton...

World-first trial shows benefits of finding, treating undiagnosed asthma and COPD

It’s estimated that 70 per cent of people with asthma or COPD go undiagnosed....

More like this

Transitioning older adults back home after hospital

Headwaters Health Care Centre (Headwaters) is pleased to announce its partnership with Bayshore HealthCare...

Addressing homelessness in older people

Homelessness doesn’t only happen to young people but also affects older adults in growing...

Improving diagnosis and treatment of brain injury in survivors of intimate partner violence

Fraser Health’s Embrace Clinic is part of a $3.4 million U.S. Department of Defence...

One in 5 adults in Canada without access to primary care

More than one-in-five adults in Canada did not have access to primary care, with...

Empowering Nurse Practitioners to transform Ontario’s healthcare landscape

As healthcare professionals, we are acutely aware of the challenges facing Ontario’s healthcare system....

Celebrating volunteers

Volunteers are highly valued members of the health care team at KHSC, and they...