In a joint effort, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, the Burke Medical Research Institute, the Development Department, Marketing and External Relations Department, Burke Auxiliary, and employees and volunteers from across the Burke community came together over the past few months to advocate for spinal cord injury research.
Since 1998, New York State’s Spinal Cord Injury Research Program (SCIRP) had been funded through a law that stipulates a surcharge on those convicted of moving violations, as moving violations account for many spinal cord injuries. But for the past four years, this important funding was diverted to offset the New York State budget deficit. This resulted in a loss of support for research into new, cutting-edge therapies, funding for recruiting spinal cord injury scientists, and much more.
Recognizing the importance of restoring this funding and the critical role it plays, the Burke community rallied together to spread the word about SCIRP and its impact on the future of spinal cord injury research. The Marketing and External Relations Department created a Change.org petition, which received over 700 signatures; the Development Department led a letter-writing campaign in which employees and volunteers wrote close to 1,000 letters in support of restoring funding; the team worked with the organization New Yorkers to Cure Paralysis; and a series of articles written by Gannett health reporters appeared in both The Journal News and the Albany-Times Union. This outreach culminated in an influential op-ed piece written by Drs. Rajiv R. Ratan and Jason Carmel, which was published in The Journal News.
All this hard work came to fruition when it was announced that the 2014-2015 New York State budget would include a total of $7 million for SCIRP funding. Burke will be applying for a portion of this funding.
“This is an enormous victory for disability research, and reflects the hard work and dedication of many people on the Burke campus,” said Rajiv R. Ratan, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of the Burke Medical Research Institute.
Burke Rehabilitation Center is grateful to everyone who was involved and showed their support for this important cause.