Published by: Stefania Kaplanes on 2/21/2013 12:12:43 PM
This blog is part of a month-long series from NAPH members addressing the relationship between gun violence and health care. Look for more posts this month covering issues from California to New York.
Back in the early 1990s, following an incident with a young trauma victim who was having a particularly tough time, the medical social worker at Highland Hospital’s trauma department proactively engaged YouthALIVE!, a local nonprofit focused on youth empowerment and leadership skills training. Together, we developed a new program called Caught in the Crossfire, which pairs “interventionists” with victims for a period of 6 months to 1 year, from bedside to job search. These specialists serve as long-term advocates for the victims and their families, offering hope and healing as they navigate the physical, emotional, logistical and spiritual challenges of recovery.
In 1999, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno selected our program as a national model to be replicated throughout the United States. Ten years later, in 2009, the National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs (NNHVIP) was officially established. Today, representatives from trauma centers across the country regularly visit Highland to learn more about our model program and join the small but growing consortium of hospitals working in communities throughout the country to curb violence and mend its victims.
The success of programs like YouthALIVE! has allowed for better hospital-community engagement and greater public awareness of our strength and breadth of service. An example of this is our partnership with the City of Oakland through Oakland Un1te, a crisis prevention program for young adults. Oakland Un1te provides similar services to Caught in the Crossfire, but for young adult patients who exceed the age limit for YouthALIVE!. We’ve also partnered with the Oakland mayor to assist Lifelines to Healing, a program designed to help young adults avoid violence in their lives before they risk becoming a statistic at the hospital. Highland’s trauma department is world-renowned for its high standard of patient care, but it’s also one of the busiest, with frequent opportunities for teaching and learning around injury and recovery.
That’s why our mission at Highland reads, “Caring, Healing, Teaching, Serving All.” We embrace the idea that our responsibility as a public hospital and our role as a world-class system of choice are not mutually exclusive. In fact, we believe these traits are complementary and give us insight to changes in the national landscape and the future of health care in America. As our elected officials engage around the key issues of our time, whether implementation of the Affordable Care Act or debating how to treat tragedies like Sandy Hook Elementary School, the doctors, clinicians and staff of our nation’s public health systems quietly continue the work of engaging communities each day around better health.
At Highland Hospital, we planted a seed that grew into a national model of prevention and recovery. Now we want other public hospitals to join us, teach us and share your time-tested tools for empowering the youth that come through your doors. Together, we can heal every community, one patient at a time.
Stefania Kaplanes, MSW
Injury Prevention Specialist