OHSU

New Doernbecher Children's Safety Center Aims To Prevent Childhood Injuries

01/17/06  Portland, Ore.

Experts in Oregon's first hospital-based children's safety center work closely with families, physicians, to provide information, equipment that will help prevent childhood injuries, the No. 1 cause of death and disability among children in Oregon, the nation

Doernbecher Children's Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University will hold a grand opening for the West Coast's first hospital-based safety center Tuesday, Jan. 17. Patients, their families, employees, students and the public now can receive expert childhood safety instruction free of charge and low-cost safety supplies that are tailored to meet each family's specific needs and lifestyle.

Tragically, 1 in 4 children each year are injured seriously enough to require medical attention, according to the National Center for Prevention and Control, and most injuries, they say, could have been prevented.

Kathy Carey, Hillsboro, Ore., and her son Spenser Erickson, 10, know well the value of safety equipment and now are regular visitors to the safety center.

Two years ago, Spenser borrowed a pogo stick from a neighbor and was eager to try it out. Kathy said that would be fine but insisted he wear a helmet. Spenser argued that he would look "dorky" in front of his friends if he wore a helmet and that it was uncomfortable. But Kathy persisted saying, "No helmet; no pogo stick."

Her tenacity and wisdom paid off. The next day Spenser rode the pogo stick for the first time. After a few jumps, the handlebars fell apart and he flew backward into the air, landing on his head in the middle of the street. Thankfully, he was wearing a helmet and avoided serious injury.

This past Christmas, with the memory of Spenser's accident fresh in her mind, Kathy visited the Doernbecher Children's Safety Center and purchased brand new helmets for Spenser and his siblings after safety center staff measured their heads to select helmets with a customized fit. Being thoughtful about safety is a habit Kathy's developed since Spenser's accident, and she intends to visit the Safety Center annually for updates.

Doernbecher Children's Safety Center works with families like Spenser's to educate them about preventable childhood injuries, the No. 1 cause of death and disability among children in Oregon and the United States. Safety advocates in the center provide one-on-one counseling and hands-on demonstration of products, including cabinet latches, window guards, stair gates, gun locks, baby-proofing supplies, smoke alarms, electrical outlet plugs and specially fitted activity helmets for numerous activities, such as biking, skating, rollerblading and skiing.

The safety center is the brainchild of Scott Shipman, M.D., M.P.H., director of the center, pediatrician in Doernbecher Children's Hospital and an assistant professor of pediatrics in the OHSU School of Medicine. After treating innumerable children whose severe injuries could easily have been prevented had parents been equipped with appropriate information and supplies, Shipman made childhood injury prevention a top priority. With the help of local funders, including America's Tire Company, Portland General Electric, and Spirit Mountain Community Fund, Shipman's vision has become a reality.

"Although we as general pediatricians look broadly at a child's well-being, preventing childhood injury is 1 of 50 things a pediatrician is expected to discuss during a routine check-up, and it often is forgotten due to time constraints or more pressing issues. After years of seeing patients whose injuries could easily have been prevented, the need for a center specializing in injury prevention education was hard to ignore," explained Shipman. "Busy physicians now can refer families in need of further instruction and counseling that is tailor-made to meet their specific needs and concerns to the center. Parents can stop by the center on their own at any time. There is no cost save the price of relevant safety supplies, which are available at reduced rates."

Safety center staff also organize and conduct safety fairs in the community. Last summer they held at bicycle helmet sale at a Beaverton elementary school -- all helmets sold out in short order. This year they again plan to visit several schools and neighborhoods in the Portland-metropolitan area.

Doernbecher Children's Safety Center Safety Fair
The Injury-Free Coalition for Kids (www.ohsu.edu/emergency/injuryfree/about.htm), OHSU's hospital-based, community-oriented program whose efforts are anchored in research, education and advocacy, will conduct playground safety tours and discuss window fall prevention. ThinkFirst Oregon, a nonprofit organization based at OHSU and dedicated to educating our state's youth in the prevention of brain and spinal cord injuries, along with the Fred Meyer bicycle team will sell and fit bicycle helmets. The Portland Fire Bureau will have a fireman teaching children about fire safety with a fun and interactive display. Children of the Sea, a local organization that provides children with instruction on water safety, will have their fish mascots providing safety education. PGE's mascot, Larry the Lightbulb, will be present along with another PGE representative teaching children about electrical safety through an interactive display called Hazard Hamlet. Oregon Safe Kids will be demonstrating booster seat instruction. Doernbecher's Pet Therapy team also will be joining the fair so children will have an opportunity to meet and pet these amazing animals that provide much support to inpatient children at Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

Starting at noon, Doernbecher's new chairman and physician-in-chief Stacy Nicholson, M.D., along with the safety center's director, Scott Shipman, M.D., will talk about the center's impetus and goals. Arleen Barnett of PGE; Shelly Hanson of Spirit Mountain Community Fund; Connie Beiser of America's Tire Co.; Sue Nicol, executive director of the Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation; and Doug Leonard, Doernbecher pediatric resident whose son suffered a potentially life threatening fall from a window, also will speak.

The Doernbecher Children's Safety Center receives funding from The Spirit Mountain Community Fund, Portland General Electric, the American Tire Company and Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

 

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