On August 16, 2017, Gwinnett Medical Center (GMC) unveiled the newest addition to its community out-reach and patient care facilities – The Sports Medicine and Concussion Care-A-Van. The mobile unit is the first of its kind and hopes to be a prototype for other communities across the country to model.
The Care-A-Van includes a concussion education and baseline testing center, as well a full-service athletic training room equipped to provide a full range of care for sports related injuries.
The services offered by GMC’s Sports Medicine & Concussion Care-A-Van include:
• Concussion baseline testing
• Athletic Training Services /First Aid
• Concussion Education
• Injury Prevention
• Wellness Programs
• Physical Therapy
• Sports Physicals
The Care-A-Van will be available to travel out to sports facilities, recreation centers, athletic events, community fairs and expos, schools, daycare centers, summer camps, senior centers, churches, corporate campuses and more. Kristin Crea, GMC’s Director of Sports Medicine, says, “Concussions can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone. We want to make sure everyone in our community knows the signs and symptoms and how to best take care of themselves when injury strikes.” In addition to concussion care, the unit offers certified athletic trainers to serve on the sidelines to provide immediate, onsite treatment for a variety of medical issues, which increases the likelihood of more positive patient outcomes. The Care-A-Van opens up many new possibilities that include better sports medicine, better concussion care, and prevention, groundbreaking medical research and more.
The idea for the Care-A-Van had been a dream for several years, but the opportunity to bring that vision to life became a reality in late 2016 when GMC decided to retire the hospital’s old mobile mammography van. As access points to diagnostic mammography have expanded across our community, demand for mobile mammography services has diminished significantly. Rather than let such a great asset sit unused, the opportunity to repurpose the van to meet a new, growing need in our community proved most promising. The old van was gutted and rebuilt to meet the specifications necessary to deliver much-needed sports medicine and concussion care services to the masses.
Crea explains, “Concussions are happening at epidemic levels. Since opening GMC’s Concussion Institute in August of 2013, we have treated more than 8,500 concussions. We are constantly seeking ways to expand education, awareness, and prevention of this serious health condition. We’ve done a great job over the past few years to educate professional, collegiate and high school athletes, but we still have a long way to go to reach younger athletes and their families and the community at large.”
Unfortunately, data shows that all too often concussions are not taken seriously. Concussions are traumatic brain injuries that if not diagnosed quickly and properly treated can be life changing. Lack of proper diagnosis and management of concussions can result in serious long-term consequences. Cumulative concussions increase the likelihood of catastrophic head injury leading to permanent disability by 39%.
Crea tells, “There is a dire need to educate athletes, parents, coaches, educators, employers and other community stakeholders about concussions - the signs and symptoms, prevention measures, when and where to seek treatment when an injury occurs, and how to safely return to learn/play/work after injury. We need to capture more neurocognitive baseline tests on people of all ages across our community, so that in the event they incur a head injury, our doctors will have a snapshot of their “normal” brain activity to help better gauge the extent of injury and craft a more effective treatment plan.”
The Care-A-Van model allows for countless community partnership opportunities. Partners could include corporations, public and private educational institutions, sports leagues, city and county parks and recreation programs, non-profit organizations, YMCAs, churches, foundations, industry associations, and more.
The first community partner that signed on to support this important healthcare initiative was Discovery Point Franchising, Inc. Cliff Clark, President and CEO of Discovery Point shares, “The advancement of medical research and technology has long been a cause that I support. This very special opportunity presented itself that I felt truly represented both me personally and Discovery Point’s commitment to the health and safety of the children in our community. It was such a rare and unique project that I wanted to make this a public partnership and truly a joint effort between Discovery Point Franchising and the Gwinnett Medical Center Foundation.”
Clark continues, “My wife, Diane, and I opened the first Discovery Point Child Development Center in Gwinnett County in 1988 and the first six of our centers all opened here. I have been a Gwinnett County resident since 1996. This is a special area and I am proud to call it home. To see the impact the Gwinnett Medical Center Foundation has had on this community is truly impressive. I look forward to this new Care-A-Van project serving Gwinnett County and beyond.”
GMC’s Sports Medicine and Concussion Care-A-Van stands ready to serve stakeholders all across our community. The Concussion Institute staff will respond within three business days to learn more about your needs and schedule a time to come visit.
Editors Note: Gwinnett Medical Center is now Northside Hospital. Updated 11/11/2022