According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2.3 million people are treated in U.S. emergency departments each year for injuries resulting from acts of violence.
Because of the physical and emotional scars left on victims and the widespread effects on neighborhoods, hospitals across Pennsylvania are committed to helping communities address violence before it occurs and to providing support for victims.
In 2016, the American Hospital Association’s Hospitals Against Violence initiative was created to help hospitals and health systems address and reduce violence in their communities. Using this web-based resource, information from national, state, and local efforts is readily available to share to end violence and save lives.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia put into effect its Violence Prevention Initiative, which seeks to protect youth through community-involved and evidence-based interventions. The initiative is rooted in educational programming in schools and the community, screening for risk in clinical settings, and direct casework with injured youth and their families.
Through educational tactics, CHOP intends to help youth better understand the serious impact of violence and prevent violent acts in the future.
Using direct casework, CHOP’s initiative supports children who have been exposed to violence, preventing physical, emotional, and developmental health challenges, long-term physiological and brain changes, school failure, drug abuse, and delinquency, as well as future violence-related injuries.
CHOP’s Violence Prevention Initiative has become a national and global model for hospital-based and community-delivered violence prevention.
In response to the disturbing number of youth-involved homicides each year, Temple University in Philadelphia created an interactive, hospital-based education program, called Cradle to Grave, that invites at-risk youth to attend a two-hour session in which they step into the shoes of a real-life teenager who lost his or her life to gun violence.
Using medical records, the participants in the program follow the teenager’s life from its beginning to the procedures done in efforts to save him or her. Taking the participants throughout the hospital setting and introducing visuals of the aftermath of gun violence, the program confronts participants with the medical realities of fatal injuries and encourages reflection on the value of human life.
Temple has found that the program produces significant improvements in the beliefs young people have about violence because of its successful physical and emotional simulation and the personal manner in which participants experience it.
Efforts to prevent violence in Pennsylvania communities don’t stop in Philadelphia. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian, UPMC Mercy, and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC started their own violence prevention initiative in response to the increasing homicide rate and the prolonged effects of violence in Allegheny County.
The University of Pittsburgh’s multifold effort to tackle community violence uses research from epidemiological surveillance and community-based participation to gain a better understanding of the neighborhood dynamics associated with violence.
Another aspect of its initiative is GRIPS, Gunshot Reoccurring Injury Prevention Services. GRIPS is a hospital-based intervention program that aims to prevent firearm assault re-injury and criminal involvement. The program introduces at-risk gunshot victims in the hospital room to counselors and other firearm assault survivors, with whom they establish goals to reach within a six-month recovery period. Goals for participants in the program vary from finding employment to finishing school.
Through education, community participation, and face-to-face interaction, Pennsylvania hospitals are doing their part to reduce the prevalence of violence in Pennsylvania’s future.