For Immediate Release:
October 30, 2014
LONDON, Ontario –What began as a reaction by staff in London Health Sciences Centre’s (LHSC) critical care trauma centre, intensive care unit, and emergency department to prevent drunk driving by teens in 1988 is still making an impact today. For 25 years, LHSC’s trauma program has been influencing the lives of teens through its IMPACT program.
“In the fall of 1988 we were seeing a lot of motor vehicle collisions involving teens, many of which were preventable,” says Gail Janus, now retired, but then the manager of LHSC’s critical care unit. “We formed IMPACT because we wanted teens to see what we saw – the consequences of dangerous behaviour.”
Originally, IMPACT™ stood for Impaired Minds Produced by Alcohol Cause Trauma and began as a multidisciplinary program to educate high school students about the dangers of drinking and driving. Students ages 15-19 are invited to take the “journey of the trauma patient” which included a demonstration of a mock resuscitation, and a tour of the LHSC’s emergency department, critical care facility, and ambulance bay.
Then, and now, the program is largely volunteer driven with paramedics, police, and hospital staff donating their time. “Our community partners are vital to the success of this program and together we are helping our teens grow into healthy adults,” says Silvie Crawford, Vice President, Patient Centred Care, LHSC.
In the 25 years since its inception, the program has expanded its reach by providing in-school presentations to grade 11 students across London and surrounding area. IMPACT has also evolved to include a visit to St. Joseph's Parkwood Hospital to learn about the possible life-long consequences of their decisions from real-life examples provided by several former patients of the acquired brain injury and spinal cord injury programs.
“We are proud to have reached 10,000 students in-hospital and over 22,000 students in-school. This year alone we will have a chance to positively influence over 3,500 teens,” says Jane Harrington, injury prevention specialist, LHSC.
The content has also evolved to remain relevant by focusing on the issues most important to students. “First, we added education about other forms of impairment to the program, such as illicit drug use, and, most recently, IMPACT has taken into account a broad array of topics that include binge drinking, distracted driving, self-harm, bullying and other teen-identified issues,” adds Harrington.
Children’s Health Foundation has been a proud supporter of IMPACT, most recently by funding new clicker technology that allows students to provide immediate feedback with the click of a button during in-school presentations to facilitate class discussion and optimize student participation. “Most of the issues teens face are universal, but now we can tweak our presentation in real-time to the issues most pertinent to each group. For instance, one group of grade 11 students might identify self-harm as something they are concerned about, while another group might focus on marijuana and driving,” explains Harrington.
“It is a very good feeling to know that what we started 25 years is still making a difference in the community today,” exclaims Janus. “I am immensely proud that this program is still meeting the challenges teens face.”
About London Health Sciences Centre
London Health Sciences Centre has been at the forefront of medicine in Canada for 139 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children’s Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, the Kidney Care Centre, two family medical centres, and two research institutes – Children’s Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 65 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital’s nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.on.ca
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