Minna Hong Wins Georgia Hospital Hero Award for Her Work as Spinal Cord Injury Peer Support Manager at Shepherd Center
Hong recognized for empowering those who are living with a spinal cord injury.
Minna Hong, recently retired Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Peer Support Manager at Shepherd Center, was awarded the prestigious Georgia Hospital Heroes Award at the Georgia Hospital Association’s (GHA) annual Hospital Heroes Awards luncheon on Nov. 2 in Atlanta.
Hong, who was one of only five healthcare workers statewide to receive the award, was recognized for her work in empowering patients who have been recently injured and those who are living with a spinal cord injury.
In 1999, Hong sustained a spinal cord injury in an automobile accident and was paralyzed from the waist down. Her husband passed away in the accident, and Minna became the single mother of two young children while learning to use a wheelchair and navigate life with paraplegia. She completed rehabilitation and found support at Shepherd Center. A few years after the accident, Minna began working at Shepherd Center as a part-time research assistant. Her role eventually evolved into the manager of the SCI Peer Support Program.
Hong understands the disability community from an insider’s perspective and is an advocate for anyone learning to adjust to living with a disability. She is an everyday hero to many patients and their families, helping them adjust to life with a spinal cord injury. She uses her experiences to guide and educate patients who have recently been injured and have to learn how to live life in a new way. She demonstrates that life beyond injury can be active and fulfilling. She and her team visit and offer their support to every Shepherd Center patient with a spinal cord injury, as well as lead support groups, teach patient education classes and host monthly dinners and special events.
“Minna built the SCI Peer Support Program from the ground up, and with her leadership, it has grown to include five employees, 17 in-house volunteers and a pool of approximately 90 mentors from all walks of life, every state and injury level,” said Laura O’Pry, RN, BSN, CCM, CRRN, manager of Shepherd Center’s Transition Support Program. “Minna touches the lives of everyone she meets on a personal and intimate level. Minna is that beacon of hope that our patients need. She leads by example and helps to instill hope, love and laughter during one of the most difficult times of their lives.”
Hong serves on the Advisory Board on Disabilities for Delta Air Lines. She also previously served as an executive board member for the Disability Resource Group, a disability brokerage agency serving clients dealing with long-term disability from injuries; and as a distribution fund committee member for the Georgia Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund. She is also a guest lecturer on treating patients with disabilities at Emory University, Georgia State University, the University of Georgia and Mercer University. She also is an editorial partner for NewMobility Magazine, a magazine for active wheelchair users.
“Minna Hong has helped countless spinal cord injury patients turn tragedy into hope and possibility,” said GHA President and CEO Earl Rogers. “Her passion for patients and their families and dedication to their overall wellbeing
Founded in 1929, GHA serves more than 170 hospitals in Georgia and promotes the health and welfare of the public through the development of better hospital care for all Georgia’s citizens. The mission of GHA is to advance the health of individuals and communities by serving as the leading advocate for all Georgia hospitals and health care systems. GHA represents its members before the General Assembly and Congress, as well as state and federal regulatory agencies, and is an allied member of the American Hospital Association. For more information, please call 770-249-4500 or visit gha.org.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 743 inpatients, 277 day program patients and more than 7,161 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.