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Special Achievement in GIS award for Baystate Health Syste?s health geographics and spatial analysis program

Aug 08, 2002 Baystate Health System’s Health Geographics and Spatial Analysis Program received the Special Achievement in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Award” at the recent 22nd annual ESRI International GIS Users Conference in San Diego, CA.

Dr. Richard Wait, chairman of the Department of Surgery at Baystate Medical Center and director of the Health Geographic and Spatial Analysis Program, received the award from Jack Dangermond, ESRI president, on behalf of Baystate Health System.

Baystate Medical Center began using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology about four years ago to track and investigate adverse health events, characterize and locate high-risk populations and design interventions in Springfield. GIS technology has been around for 30 years and is well established in several areas including environmental assessment, community planning, and transportation. “It became a vitally significant integrating technology employed in the disaster recovery and response efforts following Sept. 11, 2001 and in the post office anthrax investigations,” Dr. Wait said.

GIS technology has the potential to affect significant change in the way patients are diagnosed and treated in Springfield. Through the integration of various databases, health care providers at Baystate can better understand the medical needs of the Springfield community and use this information to provide notable improvements.

The use of GIS at Baystate began as part of an effort to share resources with the City of Springfield. Baystate Medical Center is one of the core members of the Violence Prevention Task Force with the Springfield Planning Department, Springfield Police Department, and the Department of Health and Human Services. “The GIS Program enables us to track where injuries occur, when, and to whom,” Pasini said. “Since Baystate Medical Center is the busiest trauma center in New England, GIS is a powerful tool for us.”

While the GIS Program at Baystate is expanding into many other application areas, its initial focus was on two demonstration projects investigating youth violence and late-stage breast cancer.

In the late-stage breast cancer project, a similar approach was used to study women diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer, to identify potential sociodemographic factors that may be preventing women from receiving regular screening mammograms. This information will help health care workers identify high-risk populations for intervention and design more socioeconomically and demographically appropriate screening education programs.

Perhaps the most vitally important role for GIS will be in redefining disaster preparedness and response to support “homeland security,” not only nationally and regionally, but at the local city and institutional scales. Since September 11, 2001, GIS technology is being applied to homeland security strategies. “Our goal is to develop an information-centric approach to bringing various groups together in support of a system that could help us to be better prepared for potential future disasters,” said Dr. Wait. “This system might be used in a fashion similar, but much more comprehensively, to that implemented during a shigellosis outbreak in Springfield two summers ago, when the GIS partnership worked together to identify specific areas of the outbreak as it was happening and, as a result, was able to aid in reducing its spread.”

Dangermond from U.S. Regional and International Offices, and Vertical Industry Managers solicited nominations of outstanding user sites for the SAG Award. From the list of nominations, Dangermond selected what he referred to as the “best of the best.” ESRI, Inc., based in Redlands, CA, is the worldwide leader in GIS software development and applications with an individual user base of over one million.