Ray Rice fallout fuels healthcare's domestic violence prevention efforts

Fallout over Baltimore Ravens' Ray Rice's assault of his then-fiancee Janay Palmer has renewed the conversation on domestic violence, and how various healthcare providers collaborate on programs to aid victims.

For example, since video of the incident was released last week, calls to Baltimore's Northwest Hospital's domestic violence hotline have increased, according to the Baltimore Sun. Some of the victims would never have called if they didn't see the video, Audrey Bergin, manager of DOVE, Northwest's program for victims, told the Sun. Much like the "Angelina Jolie" effect last year, seeing the impact domestic violence has on celebrities helps to break down stereotypes and stigma attached to the issue, according to the Sun.

Meanwhile, a long-term partnership between Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital provides free or reduced-cost treatment for victims of domestic abuse, according to the Boston Globe. It was through this program that Melissa Dohme, whose then-boyfriend stabbed her 32 times, was able to receive treatment for damaged nerves in her face and neck.

The two organizations have collaborated since 2009, according to the article. Mass. Eye and Ear focuses on nose, eye, ear, head and neck injuries while Mass. General handles issues such as limb wounds and fractures, scar revision and breast reconstruction. Together, they have provided care in 26 cases.  

The partnership was the brainchild of Missy Allen, who manages Mass. Eye and Ear's Facial Nerve Center and Reconstructive Surgery Center, and also worked on domestic violence issues as a board member of the New England non-profit's R.O.S.E. Fund (Regaining One's Self Esteem), according to the article.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, a program at University of Louisville hospital aims to tackle the problem of victims too afraid to show up in court to testify. The hospital's Louisville Sexual Assault and Forensic Examiners Program received a $15,000 one-year grant, which will go toward two LED Illumicam cameras (which will pick up brusing invisible to the naked eye) and help train detectives and prosecutors to recognize signs of strangulation, according to the Courier-Journal. The improved forensic evidence will help prosecutors even if victims fail to show up in court. 

Despite these efforts, fully handling the problem may require a broader cultural shift within healthcare. A survey published earlier this year found that a quarter of clinicians have never received training in screening patients for intimate partner violence, FiercePracticeManagement reported.

To learn more:
- here's the Sun article
- read the Globe article
- check out the Courier-Journal piece