PITTSBURGH - On Sunday, Michelle Fontana
stood in a reception room at Mercy Hospital
in Pittsburgh surrounded by burn patients who posed for pictures with the doctors and nurses who have treated them over the years.
"We're like family," Fontana
, a Hopewell Township native, said as she
proudly looked around."In fact, we can be closer than family when you consider how much time we spend with burn patients when they are here." Fontana, manager of trauma and burn programs at Mercy, was taking part in the burn center's eighth annual Burn Survivor Sunday, an event that reunites the medical teams with patients whose lives have been forever changed by their injuries.
The event is also tied to the 17th annual National Burn Awareness Week, Feb. 2 to 8, and the 36th anniversary of Mercy
Hospital's burn center. Mercy
treats about 300 burn patients a year.About a third of them are children.
"It's a real kick to see someone who wasn't expected to live a year ago, to see them back in a productive life," Fontana
said."It's especially great seeing the children who were burned when they were 8 or 10 and to see them as teen-agers now acting like nothing ever happened."
About 50 burn survivors and their families attended the event, which resembled any other family reunion.There were balloons, a buffet table and games for the kids.
Laughter and shouts of recognition greeted many of the burn survivors as they walked into the room.