Paige Havens

Recently I wrote about the vision developing at Gwinnett Medical Center to launch the nation’s first mobile concussion care-a-van. In November the plan was put into motion and on August 16, 2017, it was officially unveiled. It truly was a moment in history that we need to mark.

Years ago during a family dinner conversation, I asked my children, “If you could choose to live in the past, present or future, which would you choose?” One said, “The future because I want to see what’s coming.” The other replied, “The past because that’s where all the history happens.”

That prompted a great discussion about how history happens around every day, but we often don’t notice it. The launch of Gwinnett Medical Center’s Sports Medicine & Concussion Care-a-van was definitely one of those very moments.

Let’s look back on the history of the care-a-van. It was originally built in 1992 when the big need in our community was to educate and bring awareness to the need for early detection of breast cancer. Our community realized that we could improve care and save lives if we could simply raise awareness and educate people about the issue and give them easy access to mammography services.

The care-a-van was born out of that health care need and became a vital tool to help create a culture change that would embrace mammography and early detection, and launch the development of many other breast cancer resources in our community.

Today we have a new health care crisis before us.



Concussions are occurring in epidemic proportions. Awareness is poor. Most don’t take the conversation seriously. People don’t know the signs and symptoms, preventative measures to take, or how to properly treat concussions when they happen. A concussion, if not detected early and treated properly, can also be life altering, even life-ending.

We have to build more awareness. We have to educate and empower people with resources. We have to help support the research that will enable medical advances and evolve the very science of concussion. Once again we have the opportunity to create a much-needed healthcare shift in our community.

Gwinnett Medical Center’s Sports Medicine & Concussion Care-A-Van allows us to elevate the concussion discussion and take it to the masses. It will travel to recreation facilities, day cares and schools, corporate campuses, sporting events, churches, festivals and more. Concussion care is no longer con-fined to the four walls of a building. We have wheels, will travel!

The care-a-van will make concussion baseline testing accessible like never before and will put the watchful eyes and caring hands of athletic trainers on side-lines that would never have it otherwise. We will educate and empower people all across our community and beyond to best respond and minimize the impact of concussion in their lives.

Remember when you smoked a cigarette without knowing it caused cancer? Remember when you rode in the car without your seat belts? Remember when mammograms didn’t exist? Remember when it was “just” a concussion?

If you ask me if I want to live in the past, present or future, my answer is definitely the present. Living in the here and now allows us to act on lessons learned from the past and be intentional about shaping our future. This is a moment in time that we will look back on proudly and remember that it began right here in our community. We have charted a new course for concussion care that truly is history in the making.