NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A local hospital system is starting a new program aimed at taking back the community.
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Sentara CarePlex Hospital are among seven hospitals in Virginia that received a big grant from the state Department of Justice.
Each hospital will receive $400,000 per year for two years to implement programs to help break the cycle of violence and help survivors achieve positive long-term recoveries, according to Dale Gauding, spokesman for Sentara Healthcare.
Violent crime victims are rushed into Sentara Norfolk General nearly every single day. Their staff treated 327 gunshot wounds last year. Most of the victims, 281, were men between 20 and 29 years old. That number is up from 300 the previous year.
They know how to stop the bleeding, but they haven’t been able to stop the revolving door.
“It’s very sad when you see somebody that’s come in and they already had an operation for a gunshot wound and now they’re back with the exact same thing,” said Dr. Jay Collins, Chief of Trauma.
Dr. Collins likens trauma and violence to a disease like diabetes that must be managed. “If you come to the heart hospital with a heart attack we teach you how to live a healthy lifestyle; stop smoking, exercise, do all that.”
Sentara would like to do the same for victims of violence.
Trauma Service Manager Valeria Mitchell told 10 On Your Side, “I’m raising an African American young man myself and so I’ve always been interested and I have brothers and I am part of the community, so it does impact the African American community.”
Mitchell is leading the charge on a new hospital-based Violence Intervention Program. They will hire and train staff for patient outreach. Workers will go into patients’ homes and connect them with community resources for help, including:
- mental health and substance abuse
- conflict resolution
- housing and transportation
- work and educational opportunities
Virginia’s HVIP Collaborative will focus on serving patients who need treatment for gunshot wounds, stabbings, or assault as well as sexual and domestic violence.
“(I) wanted to be part of the solution versus just identifying the problem,” Mitchell said.
Dr. Collins said sending patients back home currently is scary. “I’ve seen people here afraid cause other people are coming after them or people trying to finish off the job.”
However, with a prescription for prevention they’re hopeful for healing.
This program has reduced community violence and repeat patients at hospitals across the country, including at VCU Medical Center in Richmond.
The $800,000 grant will fund it for two years. If it’s successful they hope to keep it going.
In May 2019, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced the award of $2.45 million in Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant funding to support the implementation of the HVIP model at select Virginia hospitals.
“This program will serve as a guiding light to those trapped in the darkness of violence,” said Kapua Conley, president of Sentara CarePlex Hospital in Hampton.
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