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Healthcare Georgia Foundation to spread word on trauma system

POSTED: July 24, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Healthcare Georgia Foundation has awarded a $398,000 grant to fund a trauma awareness campaign designed to educate Georgians about the need for a statewide trauma system and help keep the issue in the public eye.

The grant was awarded to Atlanta communications firm Hayslett Group LLC, which will implement an intensive 10-month program of grassroots awareness, public relations and advertising.

The trauma awareness campaign is the latest in a series of efforts funded by Healthcare Georgia Foundation aimed at helping to establish a statewide trauma system that will serve all Georgians, including many in rural areas of the state that are currently lacking access to adequate emergency transportation and trauma care.

Previous Foundation grants supported surveys conducted by the Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia which found that two-thirds of the Georgians responding would be willing to pay $25 or more a year to support a statewide trauma system because it saves lives. Reece and Associates received Foundation support to define the capacity of the essential elements of a statewide trauma system including hospitals, physicians, EMS, 911, rehabilitation facilities and other components. A Healthcare Georgia Foundation grant also supported research this year by consultant Bishop and Associates which was instrumental in the development of a formula used by the state’s Trauma Care Network Commission to distribute $58.9 million in state funds to trauma centers, physicians and EMS providers.

The latest grant demonstrates Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s belief that a trauma care system is one of the state’s most immediate and important health care needs, according to Healthcare Georgia Foundation president Gary Nelson.

“The Georgia Legislature has wrestled with the trauma issue for several years and made real progress,” said Nelson. “But the failure earlier this year to act on dedicated long-term trauma care funding was a setback for efforts to provide financial support for existing trauma centers and expand the system. More importantly, it meant that lives would continue to be lost unnecessarily. The campaign will heighten awareness of Georgians — from the general public to policymakers — of the need to take action and establish a statewide trauma care network.”

The first step in implementing the project will be to bring together physicians, nurses, EMS providers, hospital representatives, local government officials, business leaders and others to discuss an action plan that will start this summer and continue through spring 2009.

Motor vehicle crashes, falls, gunshot wounds and other traumatic injuries cause more than 5,000 deaths in Georgia and result in more than 100,000 calls for emergency medical services (EMS). Trauma patients who receive care at a trauma center within the first hour following the injury have a better chance of survival.

But Georgia is served by only 15 trauma centers — about half the number needed, according to state health officials — and does not have a comprehensive, coordinated statewide trauma system. As a result, trauma death rates are significantly higher than the national average. Between 600 and 700 lives a year could be saved if Georgia’s trauma death rate was at the national average.

For more information, visit the Foundation at: www.healthcaregeorgia.org.

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