Intervention programs help violence victims after hospital discharge

Post-discharge care is a major priority for the healthcare industry, but normally it focuses on high-risk patients with chronic conditions. When violence in the community results in hospitalizations and poses a risk to--a patient population, the solution is more complicated, according to The Atlantic.

Clinicians can treat injuries, but addressing the social factors that contribute to them is outside their wheelhouse. That's where "hospital responders," such as the New York-based Kings Against Violence Initiative (KAVI), come in. KAVI responders connect with any shooting or stabbing victims admitted to King's County Hospital to make sure that, upon discharge, they don't return to the unsafe environments that led to their injuries. Responders coordinate with law enforcement as well as inform victims and their families about helpful resources such as employment, counseling or housing, according to the article.

To ensure that responders can genuinely connect and empathize with patients, responder organizations strive to hire from the same neighborhoods whose patients they serve. There are 28 organizations across the U.S., three of them in New York and all of them funded and overseen by the cities where they operate.

"These are people who, in the mess of medical jargon, worried parents and friends looking for revenge, will look a patient in the eyes and say, 'Let's make sure that you are safe,'" Linnea Ashley, the manager of the National Network of Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs (HVIPs), told The Atlantic.

Part of the problem, Ashley said, is that victims of gang- or drug-related violence are often treated as perpetrators, even though nearly half of all such victims end up readmitted for similar reasons. And HVIPs have been linked to a 60 percent drop in readmissions for violent crimes compared to hospitals without such programs, as well as a 25 percent drop in overall violence in the area, according to the article.

Despite these potential benefits, a 2014 survey found only 12 percent of providers said violence reduction was among their key priorities, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

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