Summer is the season for fun in the sun and cruising the roadways, but did you know that it’s also known as the “season of trauma”? “The number of visits to the emergency department for injuries increases considerably in the summer,” says Michael J. Mello, MD, MPH, director of the Injury Prevention Center at Rhode Island Hospital. “People want to get out and enjoy the nice weather, but they frequently get themselves in harm’s way when they do it—whether that’s taking the motorcycle out of the garage or doing other recreational or work-related activities.”
Reducing the number as well as the severity of such injuries—and preventing their occurrence through community outreach, research and education— is the center’s primary goal.
“Injuries shouldn’t be thought of simply as accidents,” says Mello, “because they have risk factors and times when they occur more frequently. Just like any disease, they can be controlled.”
Injury is the leading cause of death among people under 45 years of age, and each year Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts experience hundreds of injury-related deaths, thousands of injury-related hospitalizations and countless injuries leading to disability.
Created by emergency department physicians at Rhode Island Hospital in 1998, the Injury Prevention Center conducts research; develops and implements community-based programs; and educates professionals, policymakers and the public about the importance of injury prevention.
With a recent increase in hospital admissions of pedestrians hit by cars—all preventable injuries—the center is urging drivers to use caution while operating a vehicle. “We work with our fellow clinicians on the trauma service or in the emergency department, and when we see an increase in a particular injury in patients at the hospital—from snowblower and sledding injuries in winter to bicycle and automobile injuries in summer—we address the problem swiftly with public education,” says Mello. “We’ve also teamed with Kohl’s for the Kohl’s Cares for Kids on the Go program, which supports car seat and bicycle safety.”
Two ongoing research projects, both funded by the National Institutes of Health, are aimed at curbing motor vehicle injuries. The first encourages injured emergency department patients who use alcohol to understand the risk of injury and its relationship to their alcohol use. They take part in counseling sessions by telephone, and researchers follow them for the next year to see if the program has lessened their alcohol use, drinking and driving, and their chance of a subsequent injury.
The second study examines a program started more than a decade ago by the Injury Prevention Center. Teenagers who have had a driving offense and have been referred to the center by the Rhode Island court system go through a program that involves counseling as well as some mentored time in the emergency department, where they are assigned to a mentor on Friday and Saturday nights. At their oneyear follow-up, these teens report fewer risky behaviors.
“They see up close a little of what I see when I’m working in the emergency department, especially on Friday and Saturday nights: preventable injuries as a result of risktaking behaviors such as drinking and driving,” says Mello.
The Rhode Island Hospital Surgery Center at Wayland Square is now open at 17 Seekonk Street in Providence. The ambulatory surgery center expands the current offerings of endoscopy procedures and outpatient surgery services at Rhode Island Hospital to provide patients with more timely and flexible scheduling. The center will provide all adult and pediatric endoscopy procedures including upper endoscopy, colon cancer screening and colonoscopy, as well as outpatient surgery services for ophthalmology, plastic surgery, podiatry, gynecology and orthopedics. A new study led by researchers at Rhode Island Hospital in collaboration with the University of Rhode Island and EpiVax, Inc., a privately owned vaccine development company, has identified a potential vaccine capable of reducing colonization of Helicobacter pylori—a known cause of gastritis, ulcer disease and cancer. Current treatments for H. pylori use multiple antibiotics in combination with acid suppression medications. Increased antibiotic resistance has made it more difficult to eliminate, and the development of a vaccine as an alternative therapy is of increased interest.
Dear Rhode Island Hospital Emergency Department,
I am writing this letter because I would like you to know that during a recent visit I had to the emergency room, I was assigned as a patient to nurse Keri Hebert. She did an exceptional job tending to my needs and going above and beyond her duties to make me feel comfortable, accompanied and educated about what was happening to me and why.
As a real estate business owner, I find it imperative that customer service be on the top of my list, especially because referrals these days are crucial. I have noticed that in this highly advanced world, we see the lack of true customer service and communication. Well, you need to know that Keri understands the “art” of customer service and exemplifies the way not only nurses should tend to their patients but also how everyone in your hospital should treat each and every one of your clients and patients.
With that being said, I would like to commend you for having such a wonderful person as part of your team.
Best wishes to all of you in the emergency department!
Cranston, Rhode Island
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