Surgeon Creates Fund To Promote Community Safety As Holston Valley's Level I Trauma Center Turns 25 Years Old

Holston Valley Medical Center's legacy of delivering high-quality trauma care and life-changing community outreach will continue to grow with a significant endowment from one of its surgeons that will promote a higher quality of life in the region.

To celebrate HolstonValley's 25th anniversary as a Level I trauma center, Dr. George Testerman, one of the hospital's stellar trauma surgeons, has created a fund with Wellmont Foundation. This generous contribution from a highly respected physician, who has served at the trauma center since its inception, will be used for injury prevention and research initiatives.

"I've spent my career caring for patients who have suffered life-threatening injuries from a variety of tragic accidents and other unfortunate incidents," he said. "I'll do anything I can to spare a family the fear, anxiety and grief of a major trauma, and that's what is so powerful about this endowment.

"If this fund saves only one life, it's worth it. But it's my fervent hope and belief that many more lives in our region will be positively impacted."

Among the ways the George M. Testerman, MD, Injury Prevention Fund will help is the purchase of improved safety equipment for local high school sports teams, safety classes for senior citizens and more training for teenage drivers. Holston Valley's trauma outreach team also plans to expand its role in the local prescription drug abuse battle.

Dr. Testerman joined representatives of Holston Valley's administration and staff, as well as local emergency medical services agencies, at a ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 10, to highlight his gift and the anniversary. The event began with a demonstration flight by WellmontOne Air Transport that illustrated the quality of care the trauma team renders every day.

Patients throughout the region are transported to HolstonValley for life-saving intervention after critical injuries. The hospital's trauma center is one of only six in Tennessee to be classified by the state as Level I, the highest possible designation.

To earn that status, the hospital has assembled a roster of exceptionally trained and experienced surgeons, who are expert trauma and critical care intensivists available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to Dr. Testerman, the team includes Dr. Tiffany Lasky, medical director of the trauma program; Dr. Daniel Anderson; Dr. John Beatty; and Dr. Cory Siffring.

The trauma center also has round-the-clock access to Holston Valley's cutting-edge diagnostic technology and operating suites.

"HolstonValley's Level I trauma program has been an impressive and important community resource for a generation," said Virginia Frank, Holston Valley's president. "The sophisticated level of care our team delivers in some of the most complex cases is sensational and ensures that residents of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia receive some of the best care possible close to home.

"The skills demonstrated by our physicians and other medical professionals are coupled with our trauma team's devotion to assisting the community with injury prevention measures. Dr. Testerman is a dedicated leader of this group who not only transforms lives in our hospital but is committed to creating an environment of safety in the community that decreases the need for trauma services."

An element of maintaining Level I certification is the hospital's leadership in injury prevention. Holston Valley's trauma nurses and physicians have been active in programs such as Trauma Nurses Talk Tough, a teenage driver's education program. They have worked to create strong partnerships with local emergency medical services agencies that have also resulted in programs to warn teenagers about dangerous driving.

Recently, the hospital's injury prevention coordinator partnered with local high schools for participation in Tennessee's Battle of the Belt initiative, which engages students to monitor their peers' seat belt use.

Holston Valley's strong interest in safety was also evident in its collaboration with the Kingsport Area Safety Council to secure Sullivan County's designation in 2012 as a Safe Community by the National Safety Council. Sullivan County is the only county in Tennessee to earn this distinction through the Safe Communities of America program.

"Not every accident and injury can be prevented," Dr. Testerman said. "But we're developing and implementing innovative programs to encourage safer lifestyles and habits, and I couldn't be prouder of the way that will benefit our region. We are blessed to live in communities rich in history and full of beauty, but we also want them to be known for embracing safety."

Todd Norris, Wellmont Health System's senior vice president for system advancement and the foundation's president, said Dr. Testerman's contribution is a testament to the way communities are strengthened when they partner with their local health system.

"Dr. Testerman is a leader not only in treating trauma cases but in recognizing the value of promoting safety in the community," Norris said. "We greatly appreciate Dr. Testerman's community spirit and look forward to watching his fund influence the health and well-being of our region. Between the remarkable care provided by our trauma professionals and safety initiatives this fund will support, the effect on our area will be profound."

To arrange a trauma speaker, or to learn more about HolstonValley's Level I trauma program, please call 423-224-5825. Additional information about the hospital and its services is available at www.wellmont.org.