Family Health

Baptist Hosts ACE Symposium

May 30 • 2018

ACE Symposium Discusses Childhood Trauma

On April 11, 2018, more than 600 health care professionals gathered at the first ACE Symposium: Influencing Outcomes With Trauma-Informed Care. The event was held at the Holiday Inn Memphis-University of Memphis, and was funded by a grant through Building Strong Brains Tennessee and the Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation.

The symposium aimed to create awareness around long-term health effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as neglect, abuse and household dysfunction like addiction or incarceration. Attendees included physicians, nurses, social workers, first responders and other individuals in the health care field.

According to a recent report, ACEs are common in adults. In fact, 52 percent of adults in Shelby County say they have experienced at least one ACE, while 12 percent have experienced four or more.

Jamie Harris, ACE awareness advocate at Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women, said that without intervention, childhood trauma can negatively affect long-term health and well-being.

“The more adversity our patients have experienced in childhood, the greater their risk of developing over 40 negative health outcomes in adulthood—from diabetes and heart disease to broken bones and even cancer,” said Harris.

Breaking the Cycle Changes Lives

Throughout the event, attendees received tips and guidelines on how to introduce trauma-informed care into their own practices. Experts recognized that a trauma-informed care approach starts with safety, trust and transparency, and it values the survivor’s right to respect and hope in his or her own recovery.

In addition to sessions on the consequences of trauma and how to facilitate healing, Baptist Medical Group physicians Dr. Melrose Blackett and Dr. Janet Geiger discussed the role of health care workers. They shared how health care workers can start a healthy dialogue around negative experiences and empower patients to break the cycle and create positive environments for their children.

“It was a wonderful day filled with an overwhelming sense of collaboration on these important issues,” said Harris. “It was a day where Baptist gratefully led the trauma-informed care movement in West Tennessee.”

Parenting With Support From Universal Parenting Place

Medical professionals, researchers and local experts at the ACE Symposium agree—parents are the key to preventing many ACEs.

However, parents are often unaware of the information, tools and emotional supports available to help them navigate parenting road blocks, such as divorce, bullying and abuse, depression or adjusting to a new baby.

To help Mid-South parents find the resources they need, Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women and Knowledge Quest opened the first two Universal Parenting Place (UPP) sites in 2015. At UPP, parents, grandparents and guardians can attend free parenting groups or schedule counseling sessions to discuss family challenges with a licensed counselor. These services are offered completely free of charge.

Parents can also access educational resources, including individuals or therapists who can explain what an ACE score means and how to provide positive experiences for a child.

“Learning this information for any parent, regardless of ACE score, is the best opportunity for building healthy brains in our children,” said Paige Marcantel, UPP director. “Building a healthy brain is like building a house—you need a strong foundation.” 

The UPP sites help parents learn this valuable information and teach them how to increase resilience and reduce stress in themselves and their children.

“It’s knowledge that has the power to change the trajectory of families dealing with generations of abuse, neglect or familial dysfunction,” said Marcantel.

Watch the video to learn more about adverse childhood experiences and how to break the cycle of toxic stress.

To find parenting services, free events and classes, visit the Universal Parenting Place. Take the survey to get your ACE score and find out how it may impact your family’s health and wellness. To order educational materials for your medical office or set up a quick training session for your staff, go to or contact