The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital is close to opening the doors of a new hospital building.
But what isn’t new is the UI IPRC’s strong partnership with the hospital in our common goal to prevent injuries in the state. In Iowa and the United States, unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children aged one year and older.
Pediatric trauma nurse coordinator Kristel Wetjen, who serves on the UI IPRC executive committee, said the hospital sees all types of injuries, but leading the pack are those from falls, sports, motor-vehicle crashes and recreational sports like ATV riding. She said the culture around pediatric injury needs to be changed.
“At this time if someone gets seriously injured or even dies due to an injury, the community often states how sad it is that this accident happened. ‘Kids will be kids’ is a common statement I hear,” Wetjen said. “Injuries to children don’t seem to enrage society and spur them on to change their safety practices, but I really wish it would as together we could prevent or limit the effects of unintentional injury.”
Wetjen said she is able to bring real-world information to injury researchers. “I can explain what injuries and mechanisms of injury I am actually seeing in the hospital and how those are impacting our communities,” she said. “We are a large referral center, therefore I feel that I see a good cross section of what is happening in Iowa.”
The partnership, Wetjen said, also allows her team to build research into every injury prevention program the hospital offers.
“Injury researchers in turn have helped me understand how important it is to evaluate our work and what we are doing for the good of the whole community and beyond our borders,” she said.
Pam Hoogerwerf directs the Injury Prevention and Community Outreach Program for the hospital and is a member of UI IPRC’s executive committee. UI IPRC has also served with her on task forces for the hospital on ATV and bike safety and teen driving.
“I see our partnership as priceless,” Hoogerwerf said. “We add value to each other’s programs by sharing information that we have obtained through our various outlets, and it gives weight to our efforts and programs.”
In the hospital’s bike safety program (funded by Kohl’s) school children participate in a “bike rodeo:” Kids’ bikes are tested, their helmets are properly fitted, and they learn hand traffic signals. A UI IPRC researcher observes how they ride bikes and whether there is increased safety behavior after the intervention.
The Grinnell Mutual and UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital’s S.T.A.R. program (Safety Tips for ATV Riders) has reached 14,000 adolescents in more than 50 Iowa schools. Data collected from this interactive course has showed that 80% of children had some exposure to ATV riding and nearly 55% experienced an incident like flipping or hitting someone.
Wetjen also serves as an adviser to the UI IPRC on a Patient Centered Outcome Research Institute (PCORI)-funded study that looks at approaches to help children recover emotionally and socially from traumatic injuries.
UI IPRC Deputy Director Lisa Roth said “The center’s partnership with UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital has not only been strong for several years now, but their hospital and community-oriented work helps us achieve our goals of research, education and advocacy.”
Read more about the new UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital building.
Read more about UI IPRC’s research in acute care.