SCVMC bids farewell to peer supporter

After five years of dedicated service as an SCI Peer Supporter at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, JoAnna Johnstone is moving to Idaho to continue her journey where she will be close to her two grown-up children and will be eagerly awaiting the arrival of her first grandchild.

During her time as a Peer Supporter, JoAnna has touched the lives of over 500 SCI patients and her sincerity and caring attitude will be missed.

In 2008, JoAnna was 41 when she had a surgery complication which resulted in a T8 incomplete spinal cord injury. For the previous 17 years prior to her injury, she was the owner/operator of a home daycare. JoAnna continues to do everything she used to do, sch as cooking, baking and cleaning, just a little differently. She regularly shared her freshly baked cookies at the Peer Support Meetings to the delight of the peer supporters and patients.

At one of the Peer Support Meetings in September 2015, JoAnna met Joan (pictured below) who had arrived at SCVMC Rehab after being transferred directly from Stanford after surgery. JoAnna saw that Joan spent almost a week at SVCMC with nothing more than a hospital gown.  She offered to go to Target and brought some athletic clothes back for Joan. 

JoAnna and Joan

JoAnna and Joan

“I honestly thought of JoAnna as my guardian angel,” said Joan, now 20 months post-injury.  I didn’t have family or friends visiting me, so I developed new friendships with other patients.  There were no other females at the time, so JoAnna was really critical as I transitioned as a new para. She helped explain my 'new normal' and showed me important skills I would need in order to function.”

Joan goes on to say, "JoAnna's care and concern was overwhelmingly special. This, plus her soft and generous nature, really speak to JoAnna's character. She has such a beautiful soul and I will forever remember her impact on me."

Just last week, a number of the SCI Peers along with Yara, one of the Peer Supporters' service dog, got together for drinks and appetizers to wish JoAnna well in her new venture. 

(from left to right) Debbie, Rich, Franklin, Cindy, Connie, JoAnna, Nick, Marv, Yara and Carl

(from left to right) Debbie, Rich, Franklin, Cindy, Connie, JoAnna, Nick, Marv, Yara and Carl

One of JoAnna's favorite quotes and something she lives by is "It is what it is in life's journeys."

JoAnna, we all wish you the very best in this journey and thank you for your great work and friendship.  You will be very much missed at SCVMC.