Hospitals are increasingly recognizing that addressing the social conditions that lead to recurring violence — and the victims of violence — can save both lives and money, and they're implementing programs in line with that notion.
Last month, Kaiser Health News reported on the emerging trend with a profile of the Violence Prevention Program at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Since that program began in 1998, about 30 hospitals across the country — from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York — have developed similar initiatives, KHN reported.
The programs follow up with patients after they leave the hospital and provide them with medical and social support to keep them out of harm's way, such as drug rehab and education classes, the news site said.
The federal health law, the Department of Justice and preliminary research appear to support hospitals getting involved in violence prevention.
The law says nonprofit hospitals have to measure their communities' health needs at least every three years and implement a strategy to meet those needs, which has led to efforts to reduce neighborhood violence. Meanwhile, the DOJ has recommended that hospitals become more involved in violence prevention, KHN said.
As for studies, the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center has done a study showing people who came to the hospital with a gunshot or stab wound and then participated in an intervention program were far less likely to get injured again after leaving. And researchers also estimated that program would save the hospital half a million dollars annually, KHN reported.
Healthify's perspective is that addressing the social determinants of health — factors like education, poverty, housing, substance abuse, mental health and food availability — is key to establishing a healthy society.
Violence and crime, things that are intertwined with those factors in determining a person's health, can be addressed more quickly if social workers can efficiently connect the underprivileged to social programs.
As violence prevention programs crop up across the country, Healthify hopes to play the role of giving victims of violence (as well as victims of poverty, mental illness and homelessness) rapid access to the services that can help them.