Stroke Peer Visitor Program Keeps Smiles Going


Vol. 14, No. 4
Winter 2005

  • Winthrop Ranked Among Top 5% in Nation For Overall Clinical Excellence -- Two Years in a Row!

  • Winthrop Gets Highest Marks from Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations

  • Cardiac Services Score High in NY State Department of Health Reports

  • Pulmonary Hypertension Program Helps Patients Breathe Easier, Live Healthier

  • Winthrop Neurosurgeon Performs "Bloodless" Spine Surgery

  • Horticultural Program Branches Off Child Life Program

  • Popular Teen Diabetes Group Focuses on Fun

  • Weight Control Program Fosters Family Involvement, Healthy Choices

  • Chronic Lung Disease Patients Breathe Easier Thanks to WEB

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis Center Emphasizes Importance of Early Diagnosis & Treatment

  • Stroke Peer Visitor Program Keeps Smiles Going

  • Winthrop's Breast Imaging & Diagnostic Center: Accessible to Patients, Timely Reports for Physicians

  • GUARDIANS of the FUTURE

  • Yuletide Ball

  • Jets Women's Organization & Project Sunshine Spread Cheer in Winthrop's Pediatric Center

    Back to Publications

  • Visitors provide support by sharing personal experiences


    Stroke Peer Visitor Program volunteer, Mrs. Gelman (center), found support through Kerry O'Brien, RN, Winthrop's Cerbrovascular Program Coordinator (right) and Carmela Anglim, CAVS, Director of Volunteer Services (left).
    Winthrop-University Hospital's Institute for Neurosciences' Stroke Peer Visitor Program -- the first such program sponsored by the American Stroke Association on Long Island -- has provided support and comfort to hospitalized stroke survivors since it was initiated a year ago.

    Trained volunteer visitors, who are either stroke survivors or caregivers, meet face-to-face with patients to offer information about life after stroke.

    "Peer Visitors provide hope, and through their mutual experience, they make connections with hospitalized survivors that others cannot," said Kerry O'Brien, RN, Winthrop's Cerebrovascular Program Coordinator.

    Barbie Gelman has been a volunteer since day one of the program after battling aphasia with the help of therapy. Today she's well and wants others, who are in the same situation she once was in, to know that there is hope. "I want to give them the same hope I had," she explained. "When I went through my illness, no one was there to understand except for a frpt for a frfor a friend, who shared the same experiences."

    Is It a Stroke?

      If you think someone may be having a stroke, ask them to:
    1. Smile
    2. Raise both arms
    3. Speak a simple sentence
    If the individual has trouble performing any of the above, call 911 immediately. Getting to a hospital immediately is critical. Thanks to live-saving medication and interventional treatments, sometimes it's possible to reverse stroke damage.
    She keeps smiles going during her visits. On one particular visit, she sat with a gentleman, who had a hard time communicating after experiencing a bad stroke. Despite being paralyzed on one side of his face, he still could smile. "He had such a beautiful smile, and I told him that 'while the stroke may have changed you, your smile is still there'," she recalled. "He touched his face; he felt his beautiful smile, and his smile widened even more."

    "When I walk out after a day of volunteering, I feel my heart is filled with giving back to the community," she explained. "More than that, my involvement has helped make my life fuller. Interacting with the patients, their families and the Winthrop community makes me feel like a whole person again!"

    To learn more about becoming a stroke peer visitor, and sign up for the next training session, contact Ms. O'Brien in Winthrop's Department of Neurology at (516) 663-9098.



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