Hospitals come together to address violence
At Detroit Medical Center's Sinai-Grace Hospital, one of five trauma centers serving the metro-Detroit area, there are daily reminders of the violence that plagues the city and its residents.
"The number one cause of death for Detroiters between the ages 15 and 24 is violence," said Dr. Reginald Eadie, regional chief operating office at Detroit Medical Center. There were 302 homicides last year in Detroit. With a total population of 677,116, that equates to 44.6 per homicides per 100,000 residents, one of the highest rates in the nation.
In an attempt to help to stem the impact of violence, DMC has implemented a two-pronged approach that focuses on prevention within the community as well as within the hospital. The health system works with the Ceasefire Detroit program, a nationally-recognized anti-violence intervention initiative where violent street offenders, as a condition of their parole or probation, talk with ex-offenders and families of violent crime victims.
In addition, the hospital in 2014 launched the DLIVE, or Detroit Life is Valuable Everyday program, which provides violence intervention counseling at the bedside throughout a patient's stay and offers resources to make it easier for them to choose other alternatives to violence once they are discharged.
"We thought that having one intervention program in the community and one in the hospital would be the most effective to mitigate the issue," Eadie said.
Initiatives like the ones at Sinai-Grace are part of a larger trend among healthcare providers across the country grappling with the devastating impact of violence in their communities.
"Violence in the community inevitably impacts hospitals in a number of ways," said Mindy Hatton, chief counsel at the American Hospital Association. "Engaging with your community and engaging with workforce I think really is an essential part of being a good community member."
The AHA Friday sponsored national day of awareness, including a digital media campaign, for its Hospitals Against Violence campaign, or #HAVHope. The concept for the campaign began last year in reaction to events such as the Orlando shooting, when a gunman killed 49 people at a night club.
The AHA along with more than 100 organizations participated in Friday's event by sharing tweets and posting photos in a show of their support. Participating healthcare organizations like DMC were encouraged to use social media to highlight their anti-violence efforts.
"The HAVHope Day is a great opportunity to shine a light on an important health concern in this country and globally," said Collen Scanlon, senior vice president and chief advocacy officer with Catholic Health Initiatives. CHI in 2008 launched a national campaign that sought to address violence within the communities their hospitals serve. "It's important to recognize this is a long-term effort."
DMC's Eadie said their interventions are aimed at steering young people away from situations that put them at risk of either being a victim or perpetrator of a violent act.
"We are able to introduce an option to these kids because they only know what they know, and their world is their neighborhood," Eadie said.
The impact of violence on healthcare providers has partly prompted a move on behalf of health experts of taking a public health approach to violence, much like smoking or obesity in recent years.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 2.3 million people are treated in emergency departments annually for violent injuries, with costs associated with violence totaling more than $85 billion a year in medical expenses and lost productivity.
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