Injury Prevention Center Seminar Provides Much Needed Help

by E. Lenita Johnson (estelljohnson@sbcglobal.net)

Phenomenal and empowering are just two of the words attendees used to describe the 3rd Annual Innovations in Translating Injury Research into Effective Prevention Seminar sponsored by the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Research at Columbia University. The daylong event offered injury prevention colleagues the opportunity to network and learn about cutting edge research and best practices in injury prevention.

Kim Wiley-Schwartz, the Assistant Commissioner for Education and Outreach of the New York City Department of Transportation speaks on Vision Zero.

Kim Wiley-Schwartz, the Assistant Commissioner for Education and Outreach of the New York City Department of Transportation speaks on Vision Zero.

American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma representative Glen Tinkoff, MD, FACS, FCCM says this seminar was paramount. “This is a major university and a major city with presentations made by professionals who understand the language, the need and the operations of injury prevention,” Tinkoff said during an interview prior to the seminar.

“It is paramount because we have not been in the public eye and that has been a problem with injury prevention with our outreach to our communities, our politicians, our legislators and our patients. We are not informing them well and so these venues are exceptionally important.”

Dr. Guohua Li, the Director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University and the editor of The Springer Open-Access Journal, Injury Epidemiology understands the value of communication, partnerships, the Center and its work; and, he says the Center is doing what it can to contribute to change. “The significance of Columbia’s CDC funded Injury Control Research Center has been immeasurable. The Center has helped us to put injury prevention on the academic map of the University and the Mailman School of Public Health, develop well-structured coursework for Doctoral and Masters Students, add injury prevention to the mission statement of Columbia; and, most importantly when it comes to outreach, the Center helped expand and address priority areas of injury facing the nation and its most vulnerable population groups while strengthening collaborative efforts with colleagues at the University, in the region, in health departments, and in communities not only in this area but across the country.”

Barbara Barlow, MD, Columbia’s Injury Control Research Center Associate Director and Co-Director of Outreach says this is what the CDC wants. “The CDC wants you to have more than research and data. They want you to use the data to translate into action to improve community health and safety for children and their families,” Barlow says, “Most of the people attending the Columbia seminar like many health care professionals have never walked outside of their hospital walls, and that is what outreach is all about.” She went on to say the doctors, nurses and the community outreach workers need to walk outside the hospital walls and help the communities they serve in and help solve their health problems. “To just treat trauma and not try to prevent it is just absolutely immoral. As a physician you have an obligation not only to treat disease, sickness and injury but also to contribute to the community’s health and wellbeing.”

The Center, seminar and Injury Free outreach efforts are resources that could probably be of use to every injury prevention group in the Northeastern part of the country according to New York State Department of Health Bureau of Occupational Health and Injury Director Kitty Gelberg, PhD, MPH. “People need to recognize your existence, reach out to you and work with you. This wealth of experience and knowledge is not just State based,” she said. “If you go into injury prevention and you feel like you are alone doing this, it gets very overwhelming very quickly because of all of the different types of injuries. It helps to realize there are already people out there doing this, you are not alone, you don’t have to recreate the wheel, the template is there and you can follow it.” She says she believes that was the message for attendees and it came across very well.

Just over 60 people attended the event, and they heard from a variety of industry experts. In addition to having Kim Wiley-Schwartz, the Assistant Commissioner for Education and Outreach of the New York City Department of Transportation who spoke on The Vision Zero initiative: An update on New York City‘s approach to reducing traffic fatalities and injuries, and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Assistant Commissioner Hillary Kunins, MD, MPH, MS who spoke on Prescription drug initiatives in New York City, those in attendance heard from six physicians and injury prevention outreach professionals from the Injury Free Coalition for Kids®, a national injury prevention outreach program that is among the country’s premier injury prevention programs and the outreach arm of the Injury Center.

In addition to presentations, attendees had the opportunity to participate in roundtable discussions on a variety of injury topics including trauma center verifications, Department of Transportation and Department of Health injury prevention initiatives including violence and road safety. They also had the opportunity to talk about: child injury prevention, elderly falls, violence prevention initiatives, ACS Trauma Center certification and publishing and disseminating injury and injury prevention science.

Roundtable discussions during lunch offered the opportunity for extended conversations, teachable moments and questions.

Roundtable discussions during lunch offered the opportunity for extended conversations, teachable moments and questions.

“This seminar was great. I really enjoyed it and I learned a lot. The speakers are informative, enthusiastic and very knowledgeable,” Deborah Travis, Trauma Program Manager of St. Lukes Hospital said. “I am new to injury prevention and it has helped me to verify that I am on the right track and given me some new ideas.” Her sentiments were echoed by Dekeya Slaughter of Bellevue. “I have attended previous seminars, but in my new role as Injury Prevention Coordinator this one provided me contacts I can call. It has been great.”

Few would question the need for more seminars like this one. Tinkoff says most recent research shows there are only so many lives we can save in acute care and injury prevention is the new frontier in reducing the burden of injury in the US and worldwide. He concluded the interview by saying until it is better addressed injury will remain the biggest killer of our population between the ages of 1 and 44 and it will continue to rob the population with more years of life lost than any other entity that we have.

The course Director was Joyce Pressley, PhD, MPH Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Health Policy and Management at CUMC, and Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University, Outreach Co-Director.