Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana (RHI) held its 2018 Patients of the Year Celebration on September 16, 2019, where the hospital recognized 15 outstanding patients. This annual event is a direct representation of what RHI stands for and why each employee is here at the hospital each day. The ceremony provides both the patients and those involved in their journey the chance to celebrate the hard work and dedication applied to get where they are today.

Every year, RHI treats over 5,000 patients for brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, strokes, and comprehensive medical rehabilitation. With the number of patients that come through the hospital, there are few who can manage the mental and physical toll that a life-altering injury brings. RHI believes that it is important to acknowledge those who not only handle the stress, but also persevere through the adversity that the injury brings. To celebrate these special patients, each year the hospital hosts an event to bring them into the spotlight and surround them and their families with similar people. The event brings the patients back to the place where their journey began and in front of those whom they inspired.

The annual Patient of the Year Celebration began with former RHI Foundation Chair Jim Graham and has become an annual festivity that includes both staff at RHI and alumni patients. The hospital selects honorees from the previous year based on employee nomination forms. Nurses, clinicians, or anyone working with the patient complete forms describing what the patient’s injury is that brought them to RHI and also what behaviors have led them to be nominated. At the end of the year, a committee meets and reviews the nominations and decides which patients provided the most inspiration and infectious optimism to the staff and others. Those who are selected receive a nomination letter in the mail that encourages them to bring not only family and friends to help celebrate them, but also any important mementos that remind them of their time at the hospital.

The celebration at RHI’s Main Campus brings a wide array of attendees, including the nominees and their families, along with plenty of RHI staff. Some of the RHI names that attend the event include CEO Dan Woloszyn, Chaplain Joan Dell, and CNO Joshua Halon, among many other nurses, clinicians, and non-clinical staff. This year, the event even brought in an alumni patient of the hospital from over 13 years ago to share the special night with. The event allows the honorees to tell about their experiences with RHI and fighting their injuries, while also allowing them to show off how far they have come in their rehabilitation process. In front of the nurses and clinicians, they spent much of their time with, the ex-patients parade down the aisles of people to accept their awards. The visual of the honorees doing what they seemed was impossible at the start, reminds all of the attendees why they are receiving the award.

Each year reminds the families, staff, and everyone else in attendance about the importance of this special event. The way the honorees have experienced the lowest of lows in obtaining life-changing injuries and still manage to keep an uplifting and positive personality dignifies some sort of acknowledgment and recognition. In an interview, Bill Breuninger, Physical Therapist Assistant and instrumental part of this ceremony, expressed his view on the importance of recognizing these incredible patients. Bill had this to say:

“Sometimes you get the myriad of emotions. You get anger, you get frustration, you get fear, and you get everything… When people touch you in a way when they persevere through that and they touch others by either encouraging or uplifting other people around them as patients and other people on the nursing units, we like to pay recognition to those people.”