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Brain injury association's regional offices closed


By Katie Demeria

The Brain Injury Association of Virginia's regional office in Winchester will close on June 30 and the association will reallocate funds toward other services.

Anne McDonnell, association executive director, said a need to provide further services to those in Virginia suffering from brain injuries led to the decision to close the regional offices.

"As we have grown brain injury services in the state of Virginia and made more people aware of the support and services that may be available, the number of individuals requesting case management services has increased," McDonnell said.

"Our regional coordination program was never designed to provide intensive case management services," she continued. "So the money that had been used for the regional offices will now go toward that."

Jill James, regional resource coordinator in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, issued a news release about the decision.

"When we began the regional resource coordination model in 2003, brain injury services in Virginia were significantly limited," the release states. "It was our job to increase services across the state and to build local communities to better serve the needs of those affected by brain injury."

The release notes that the regional resource coordination system has been successful in its goal, and now "the need for local case management services has grown exponentially."

Regional resource coordinators have worked to spread awareness of brain injuries, engaging communities and helping to organize support groups, McDonnell said.

No other positions within the association will be provided to the coordinators.

McDonnell said it was a difficult decision to make, but she expects positive results to grow from the change.

The money will go toward providing both case management services and a brain injury registry, which is used to reach out to individuals who have newly suffered a brain injury to provide them support, resources and education.

The brain injury registry was previously grant funded, she added, but now the state has decided to dedicate state funding to the program.

"These registry outreach programs reach 7,000 to 8,000 people in Virginia each year," McDonnell said. "That's a great thing, and we don't have to keep scrambling for grants now. You have no idea how many people reach out to us who didn't even know they had a brain injury, and didn't know we existed."

Case management, McDonnell said, offers one-on-one support to individuals with brain injuries. The case managers help with daily needs like grocery shopping and paying bills, and work with them to establish long-term goals both recreationally and vocationally.

Many have also been seeking case management services to assist in the job search, which can be difficult for those who have suffered a brain injury.

Both James and McDonnell stressed that the resources provided by the regional resource coordinators will still be available through the association's Richmond office.

"There's a strong support group in Winchester, so there will be a continuation of services," McDonnell said. "And we will continue to provide technical support to the group leaders."

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com


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