Preventing unnecessary childhood deaths

In a room off the main office of the Knox County Health Department, a handful of people gathered to review and prevent a heavy topic.

The Child Fatality Review Board is not a new entity in Knox County, yet little is known about the organization. The board consists of law enforcement, doctors, health department employees, coroners and members various other fields that can contribute in any way. The mission of the board is to reduce health and life threats, particularly death, among all Kentucky children under the age of 18. At its quarterly meetings, the board reviews fatalities that occur both in the Knox County community and the state as a whole to determine how to prevent similar deaths from occurring in the future.

“When a child dies, it impacts the whole community,” said Tammy Owens, R.N., HANDS Coordinator, and Public Health Nursing Administrator of Knox County Health Department. “Everyone feels that death and wants to help.”

The Board leans heavily on prevention through education. At the June meeting, the topic of bicycle safety was one of the main focuses. The Board hopes to teach children safe bicycling habits with an interactive safety course or class.

But, when tragedy strikes, the Board also provides resources to help with the grieving process. At the meeting, the Board welcomed a member from Artemus Christian Church to speak about the church’s Wings of Hope program. One of many support programs in the community, Wings of Hope offers Christ-based counseling after the death of a child or relative.

The Board hopes to increase the community’s awareness of the organization.

“We want people to know that something is being done,” said Owens.