How can hospitals move beyond merely treating those who are injured by violence in the community to becoming active participants in violence prevention? What challenges are hospitals and public health officials likely to face when they engage in these efforts? And what obstacles and challenges prevent hospitals from taking steps to address injury and violence prevention?
Leaders from 31 hospitals and 10 public health and community organizations met last month in Denver at the Association for Community Health Improvement annual conference to answer these questions while also sharing success stories and providing valuable resources on violence prevention. ACHI, of the American Hospital Association, is a national association for community health, community benefit and healthy communities professionals.
In a session titled “Healthy in the Hospital and Safe in the Street,” a leader from Sinai Hospital of Baltimore explained a partnership the organization has developed with Baltimore City Health Department’s Safe Streets program to transform the most dangerous street corners in the city. Together, the groups developed the Safe Streets violence intervention program. Lane Levine, LifeBridge Health population health project manager, presented on the cycle of street violence, highlighting the cascading consequences and how the program addresses the medical aftermath of street violence by connecting hospital patients with resources outside the hospital to resolve their conflicts and make the streets safer.
Sinai’s Safe Streets violence intervention team visits patients who are victims of violence and builds a path toward conflict resolution and re-engagement in the community. The process moves from inside the hospital directly outside to Safe Street’s violence intervention team, which returns to the site of conflict and works to resolve the dispute. Sinai’s program then safely introduces the patient back into the community with a system of peacemaking and social support. Session participants also shared lessons learned in recruiting and training violence interventionists, providing meaningful social support and engaging community partners.
A roundtable discussion titled “Using CHNAs to Identify Injury and Violence Prevention Principles” examined how to include injury and violence prevention in the mandated community health needs assessments and implementation plans by identifying best practices and convening a community of practice. Elizabeth Zurick, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with Susan Cahn and Gretchen Torres, both senior research scientists from NORC [National Opinion Research Center] at the University of Chicago, facilitated the discussion. NORC was contracted by the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control to explore with hospitals and national leaders how to include injury and violence prevention in the mandated CHNAs and implementation plans by identifying best practices and convening a community of practice.
Participants shared successes and the diverse range of activities hospitals are leading to target violence prevention, both in the community and the workplace. Much of the success is attributed to community partnerships with schools, law enforcement, shelters and correctional facilities. On the other hand, many challenges exist due to competing priorities, funding, access to data, common approaches to measurement, and the lack of community capacity and resources.
Despite all the efforts and progress in assessing and addressing the health needs of a community, hospitals continue to face challenges in building sustainable community partnerships, securing funding sources, creating common measures and communicating the return on investment when trying to work together to address violence prevention.
For more on how hospitals are working not only to treat violence in their communities, but also to prevent it, be sure to check out the American Hospital Association’s resource page on the topic. Plus, watch for continuing coverage on the AHA’s Hospital’s Against Violence initiative in the print edition of Hospitals & Health Networks and at hhnmag.com.