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County establishes professional team to review child fatalities

ROCKWALL – Under the guidance of the Texas Department of State Health Services, Rockwall County has established a Child Fatality Review Team (CFRT) to review the deaths of all children under 18 years old, regardless of cause or suspected cause.

According to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall Marketing Director Nikki Mutschler, the team brings together the expertise of 25 local law enforcement, legal, child advocacy and medical personnel who will review the reason for children’s deaths over the past decade, from a public health perspective.

By reviewing circumstances surrounding child deaths, she explained teams will identify prevention strategies that will decrease the incidence of preventable child deaths by:

  • Providing assistance, direction, and coordination to investigations of child deaths;
  • Promoting cooperation, communication, and coordination among agencies involved in responding to child fatalities;
  • Developing an understanding of the causes and incidence of child deaths in the county or counties in which the team is located;
  • Recommending changes to agencies, through the agency’s representative member, that will reduce the number of preventable child deaths; and
  • Advising the State Committee on changes to law, policy, or practice that will assist the team and the agencies represented on the team in fulfilling their duties.

According to Gregory Sonnen M.D., a pediatrician with Pediatric & Adolescent Specialists of Rockwall, who is the Rockwall County CFDT Presiding Officer, there were 12 child deaths in 2011. Most died outside of the County, such as in traffic accidents.

Mutschler said the Rockwall CFRT is comprised of individuals who serve the community in a variety of occupations and whose backgrounds benefit the evaluation and review process for child fatality events. The team had its first quarterly meeting in January and will meet again May 29 at the County Courthouse.

Members of the Rockwall CFRT are:

  • Gregory Sonnen, M.D., F.A.A.P., CFRT Presiding Officer; Pediatrician, Pediatric & Adolescent Specialists of Rockwall
  • Tami Hawkins, RN, MSN, Child Fatality Review Team Coordinator; Vice President, Patient Care Services, CNO, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall
  • Christy Peoples, Child Fatality Review Team Data Reporting, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall
  • Kenda Culpepper, Rockwall County Criminal District Attorney
  • Ashley Anderson, Rockwall County Assistant Criminal District Attorney
  • Harold Eavenson, Rockwall County Sheriff
  • Nancy Beaty, Justice of the Peace, Rockwall County Precinct 2
  • Terry Garrett, Director of Public Safety, Heath, TX
  • Sara Bonser, Assistant Superintendent, RISD Student/Family Services
  • Nichol Smithers, RN, M.Ed., MSN, RISD Student/Family Services
  • Laurel Tate, LCSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • David Lensch, M.D., Rockwall City Medical Director, Baylor Family Medical Center at Rockwall
  • Gary Bonacquisti, M.D., Rockwall County Medical Director, Benchmark Family Medicine
  • Katie Gerber, Child Protective Services Specialist
  • Vickie Nettleton, Program Director, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)
  • Angie Scalf, Rockwall County Chief Juvenile Probation Officer
  • Sumer Wassef, LPC, Victim Services, Texas Department of Public Safety
  • Susan Clark, Traffic Safety Specialist, TxDOT
  • Sue White, Rockwall County Victims Assistance Coordinator
  • Samuel R. Crowley, M.D., Emergency Physician, Emergency Medical Consultants
  • Vickie Oldham, Detective, Criminal Investigation Department, Rockwall County Sheriff’s Office
  • Theresa Marie Snyder MS, RNC, CPN Womens Services, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall
  • Tim Wolf, LP, CCEMT-P, Paramedic Supervisor, Rockwall County Emergency Medical Services
  • Martin Ramirez, LP, Paramedic Supervisor, Rockwall County Emergency Medical Services
  • Katie Martin, BS, RN, CEN, Director Critical Care and Emergency Services, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall

For more information on Rockwall County’s Child Fatality Review Team, contact Gregory Sonnen, M.D. at 214-771-3712.

By J.J. Smith, Publisher

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