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Gaddist earns doctorate, plans to help fight childhood trauma injuries

Colleton County native and freelance health columnist Cokeitha Gaddist has received her Doctor of Health Administration degree from the MUSC College of Health Professions.
Gaddist previously worked with the administration at Colleton Medical Center and currently writes a healthcare-based column for The Colletonian Newspaper.
She began working on earning her doctorate nearly three years ago. The MUSC College of Health Professions program consists of two years of course work and up to three years to complete a doctoral research project and a dissertation project. While each student is allotted up to five years to complete this program and earn their degree, Gaddist earned her doctorate in three years.
“I did the course work in two years and doctoral research project and wrote my dissertation in one year,” she said. “I was determined to complete the program early in three years (stated in 2018-2020) for a May 2020 graduation. Unfortunately, graduation was canceled due to COVID19.”
Her doctoral research project and dissertation were titled, “Cost and Variations in Trauma Types for Pediatric ER Visits by South Carolina County”.
“My research project examined ER visits and hospital discharge data for pediatric patients in South Carolina by the county to identify trauma types for unintentional injuries, cost, distribution by high-risk populations and by rural or urban classification to determine appropriate interventions,” she said. “Unintentional Injury is the leading cause of death for children ages 0-19 and estimates over $6.6 billion annually in medical cost.
“As a hospital administrator, I saw far too many children coming to the emergency room for injuries that could have been prevented. Unfortunately, many children die in the ER or worse never make,” she said. “No parent should have to lose a child to an injury that can be preventable. I decided that I want to do something about it.”
Gaddist said her research has helped her to identify trauma for each county in South Carolina, and the population that is most at-risk for trauma.

“As a result of my findings, I’m able to pinpoint where and what type of intervention is a need in each county in order effect change to prevent childhood injury in South Carolina, and decrease the number of children who are from dying of injuries that can be prevented,” she said.
“It is our responsibility to do all we can do to make sure children are safe and protected from harm. This is my passion and my purpose to change outcomes and do my part to help save our children in South Carolina.”
After graduating with her doctorate, Gaddist will start her Postdoc. This is being done through the Executive Fellowship at MUSC’s Leadership Team at the new Children’s Hospital in Charleston.
This is a one-year-long fellowship program that starts in June.
“After completing the fellowship my goal is to work for the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control,” she said.
“I am extremely grateful to my family, friends, mentor, professors and colleagues for their support and motivation to help me accomplish the goal and major milestone in my life.
In addition to earning her Doctorate of Health Administration at MUSC, Gaddist has also earned her Master of Health Administration & Policy from MUSC, a Master of Rehabilitation Counseling from S.C. State University; and a Bachelor of Arts in Health and Physical Education from Claflin University.

Heather Walters (1738 Posts)