In 2005, Cornis-Pop helped conceive, develop and implement the VA’s Polytrauma System of Care, an integrated network of facilities that provide specialized programs to help wounded men and women recover, and move from acute care to outpatient rehabilitation and reintegration into the community. She now leads and manages the system, developing policies and procedures and monitoring their implementation.
“We have a direct impact on how health care is delivered and is impacting veterans and service members, and that is tremendously gratifying,” said Cornis-Pop, national program manager of the Polytrauma System of Care at the Veterans Health Administration, Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services, at the VA.
She also is responsible for providing education opportunities for VA health care providers who treat traumatic brain injuries. And the system works with another 39 VA locations that provide some, but not all elements of comprehensive polytrauma rehabilitation care, to define the care those facilities can provide and help make the decision when to refer patients to another level of care.
In addition, Cornis-Pop was the lead author and editor of a “massive project” to publish a 166-page book that came out in April 2010, which serves as an accredited independent study course on traumatic brain injury for members of VA health care teams around the country, said Joel Scholten, director of Special Projects at the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Program Office (PM&R), which manages the Polytrauma System of Care. Nearly 12,000 clinicians have completed the course between April 2010 and July 2012, using either the book or a Web version of it.
Cornis-Pop “has the innate ability to pull people together and get focused on a task and think creatively, and, most amazingly, develop an end product that is useful and veteran-centric,” Scholten said. “She develops programs and projects that have been sustained because they are clinically relevant. It’s not just policy that is developed and sits there.”
Dr. David Cifu, national director of the PM&R office, not only relies on Cornis-Pop to coordinate the care programs around the country but also to respond to outside requests for information, including from Congress. “She’s the person who makes it all happen,” he said. “She doesn’t care about getting credit. She just gets things done. That’s gold.”