Healthcare leaders increasingly recognize that as part of population health management, they must treat local violence as a public health threat. Now a major Philadelphia hospital is taking the strategy a step further, treating violence the same way clinicians would a disease: by working to halt its spread.
Philadelphia’s Healing Hurt People (HHP) program zeroes in on emergency department patients who are at high risk for violent injury and follows up with them after discharge, working to address potential psychological after effects, according to Cleveland.com. While based at Drexel University College of Medicine, HHP’s reach has extended to the majority of the city’s major trauma centers. It runs at a price tag of about $300,000 a year per site, a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated cost of $1.3 million per violent death in medical costs and lost potential productivity, the article noted.
Gunshot victims are at particular risk for readmissions, with up to 45 percent reinjured in the next five years nationwide. Programs like HHP have launched in more than 25 other cities and in some cases have reduced injuries by more than a third. Cleveland’s main safety-net provider, MetroHealth Medical Center, is working to launch its own program, while city leaders have devoted $165,000 in grants to map out solutions to violence from a public health perspective.
While the long-term goal of the programs is reducing readmissions and injuries, the immediate aim is to address mental issues associated with the aftermath of violence, such as depression and post-traumatic stress. HHP also connects patients with mental healthcare, drug treatment and social services.
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