March 28, 2004, may not be a significant benchmark in history, but Brian Simpson will always remember it. That was the day his son, Quintin, was in an accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury.
Quintin Simpson, a firefighter for Sharps Chapel Volunteer Department, was responding to a call when he was in an accident where he was hurt on his way to help someone.
"He was doing a good thing and we're proud of him," said Brian Simpson, of Union County, Tenn.
The Jimmy Simpson Foundation - Safehaven is a 24-hour lifelong living traumatic brain injury facility and was just awarded 2010 Small Business of the Year by the Walker County Chamber of Commerce. The nonprofit organization focuses on direct services and education for brain injury and currently has a staff of 30 on their facility.
There are very few places like the Jimmy Simpson Foundation Safehaven in the country and they were lucky to be able to get in, Simpson explained.
"Safehaven is doing their job, we are just waiting on help from God," Simpson said.
Safehaven was founded in 1998 in honor of Jimmy Simpson, then the vice president of Astec Industries, who three years earlier had an anoxic brain injury from falling out of a hospital bed after surgery.
A SAFE PLACE
Safehaven is at 9558 N. Hwy. 27, Suite B, in Rock Spring. Visit here or contact them at 706-375-9520 for more information.
"The accident left him in a state with the equivalent to a 6-month-old," said his daughter Vickie Hodge, executive director of JSF. "Health care professionals told us there was nothing else they could do."
After learning they were on their own, Hodge's mother, Carol Simpson, brought the family together and decided that with the assistance they would receive from friends and family they would be able to take care of Jimmy plus three to four more long-term care traumatic brain injury patients.
And that is how Safehaven began.
According to the CDC's website, traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of injury, death and disability in the Unites States, affecting 1.7 million people every year.
"We never dreamed of how much of a need there is for what we are doing," Hodge said.
Safehaven's 12-bed facility in Rock Springs looks more like a home with decorated rooms, family photos and different colored walls. The staff say they try to create a family atmosphere as much as they can.
Hodge said Safehaven is the only traumatic brain facility of this type in the Southeast and has residents from all over the country, including from California, Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky.
"We've had physicians tell us our patients are not going to get better and we've seen them walk out of here or transition into assisted living facility," Hodge said.
Safehaven was set up to not only care for individuals but also provide help for the families involved. Hodge said sometimes family members just need to be listened to and heard.
The organization is also the meeting and support facility for the North Georgia Brain Injury Support Group, which meets the second Tuesday of every month.
"We have walked the same path of our patients with the feeling of 'Oh no, what's next?'" Hodge said. "So I ask myself every day, 'What can I do for these family members to make it better?'"