Healthy You - Every Day

Burning Desire to Help

A daughter’s treatment and recovery inspires family to support LVHN’s Regional Burn Center

Pam, Kevin and Leah John support LVHN's Regional Burn Center

Prior to May 26, 2016, Pam John of Coopersburg hadn’t known anyone with burn injuries.

“I wasn’t aware that Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) even had a Regional Burn Center,” Pam says. But on that terrible day, her then 21-year-old daughter, Leah, was in an auto accident that sent her car airborne and caused a vehicle fire. “Basically, the entire bottom half of her body was burned,” Pam says.

Leah spent four weeks receiving care for her burns along with broken ribs and internal injuries at the Regional Burn Center at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest, the largest and busiest burn center in Pennsylvania. Treatment required her to undergo skin grafts and be in a medically induced coma for part of the time. Leah then spent three weeks in LVHN’s Inpatient Rehabilitation Center and received outpatient services at the Walter J. and June H. Okunski Burn Recovery Center for the next three years.

“We’ve been blessed by our experience,” Pam says. “I want to give back and help others the way we were helped to heal body, mind, heart and soul.”

“Her accident was a horrific experience,” Pam says. “It changed our lives forever. But out of it came a lot of good.”

Pam and her husband, Kevin, found that burn center staff, including doctors, nurses, social workers and physician assistants, worked as a team. “Dealing with mental health was as much a part of healing as providing medical care,” Pam says. “The whole team felt like family.”

Also crucial in recovery were other burn survivors and family members at the core of a burn support group that met monthly to share experiences and discuss topics such as therapies, relaxation techniques and mental health. “The center treats the entire family, not just the patient,” Pam says. “Our experience was absolutely incredible.” 

Now the John family supports the burn center’s efforts to provide multilayered care. Enviro-Air Technologies, the company Pam and her husband co-own, is a sponsor of the Thomas J. McCormac III Memorial Fund, which supports burn survivor programs. Pam helps run a dodgeball tournament held annually to aid the fund. The 2020 tournament – disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic – would have marked the event’s 10th year. 

With McCormac Fund support, Pam and Leah have attended several international conferences for burn survivors and professionals called the Phoenix Society World Burn Congress and trained as Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery (SOAR) volunteers to work with other burn survivors and their families.

“We’ve been blessed by our experience,” Pam says. “I want to give back and help others the way we were helped to heal body, mind, heart and soul.”

Regional Burn Center

Support our mission

Contact to learn how you can support the burn center.


Explore More Articles