Hospitals partner with community anti-violence groups to manage population health

Continuing a broader trend toward treating community violence as a public health issue, many providers are incorporating community-based "violence interrupters" into their trauma teams, according to U.S. News & World Report.

For example, Kansas City's Truman Medical Center Hospital Hill has formed an alliance with the Aim4Peace Violence Prevention Program. Through the partnership, Aim4Peace's interrupters counsel the victims of violence and their friends and family to dissuade them from retaliating, the newspaper reports. Although the interrupters are trained in conflict resolution, they also grew up in the same violent, low-income areas as the patients they counsel, giving them more credibility than police or medical professionals.

Since the program was introduced, citywide homicides are down 28 percent. Between 2012 and 2014, trauma patients with stab, gunshot or other deliberate penetrative wounds fell from 31 percent to 25 percent, the difference between one a day and several a day, Dustin Neel, a trauma surgeon at Truman, told the publication.

Truman's program is also credited for a 70 percent decrease in the city's East Patrol district, one of its most violent, according to the article. Originally the program was specifically for gunshot victims, similar to a program at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center, and workers had to get upfront patient consent and security screening, which proved incompatible with their time-sensitive mission. Today, the interrupters wear hospital badges and get immediate access to any victim of intentional penetrable violence.

Although Truman's program echoes other programs meant to address community factors when treating victims of violence, it's also part of a broader movement to connect patients with community resources that help them manage the condition that brought them to the hospital in the first place.  

"Health is not only medical care," Susan Kansagra, assistant vice president of population health at New York City Health and Hospital Corporation, told U.S. News & World Report. "When patients are identifying needs and when we are helping them to meet those needs, we view that as a success."

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