Thursday, February 26, 2009

Trauma Day at the Capitol Demonstrated Wide Support for Trauma Funding

Hundreds gathered at the Capitol to urge lawmakers to find funding mechanism

An estimated 300 people from across the state gathered at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot and the Capitol Monday to show their support for a statewide trauma system by asking their legislators to provide funding.

Doctors, nurses, emergency medical service providers and business leaders joined the scores of trauma survivors and family members of fatalities in placing carnations at a memorial just outside the Capitol. The sign at the memorial read: “In Memory of Lives Lost, In Hope of Lives Saved.”

Pam Russell, daughter-in-law of University of Georgia and Georgia Southern legend Erk Russell, urged everyone to remember that trauma always has a face.

“I am here today to urge each and every one of you to become advocates for funding more trauma hospitals in the state of Georgia by putting a face to trauma,” she said. “For us, the face is that of our youngest daughter Charlee,”

Three years ago, Charlee, 16 at the time, was on her way to school one January morning when she collided with a Jeep Cherokee travelling 55 mph. Prompt treatment at a trauma center is what saved her life.

“Her father and I know, without a doubt, that the Memorial Hospital trauma staff and unit not only saved Charlee’s life, but they made her whole again. The world class trauma doctors and staff carried out the medical procedures they felt would work best for Charlee. They not only healed Charlee, but they healed me. They were always answering my many questions and always staying positive, always believing that our little girl would be returned to us healed.

“Our story had a happy ending. Many do not. The person in this story could just as easily have been your son, daughter, spouse, parent, or friend. Don’t let another day, week, month, or year go by without answering the call to fund and place more trauma hospitals in the areas of Georgia that need them the most. With all of us working together and by becoming personally involved, we can make this happen. It might save the life of someone you love.”

Russell was one of nine speakers to address the group, along with Dr. Dennis Ashley, chairman of the Georgia Trauma Care Network Commission; Dr. M. Todd Williamson, president of the Medical Association of Georgia; George Israel, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce; Tom Bell, chairman and CEO of Cousins Properties, Inc., and a member of the Grady Memorial Hospital Board of Directors; Battalion Chief Chad Black of the Hall County Fire Services Department; Mike Polak, executive director of external affairs at Memorial University Health System in Savannah, and two leading advocates of trauma funding in the General Assembly, State Senator Cecil Staton (R-Perry) and State Representative Austin Scott (R-Tifton).

Following the speeches, those in attendance walked to the trauma memorial at the State Capitol and placed carnations at the site. The stem of each flower was wrapped with a printed note featuring one of the hundreds of testimonials from trauma advocates, such as this one: “My husband had a terrible motorcycle accident in January of 2006. He was taken to the Trauma Center at Gwinnett Medical. If it were not for the location and skills of the staff at the Trauma Center, my husband, father of two daughters, would have lost his life. My vote is YES, YES, YES!!!”

Many in the crowd then went inside the Capitol to find their legislator.
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