A grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will help Reading Hospital fight gun violence.
Parent company Tower Health said it received a $193,078 grant to implement a hospital-based violence intervention program (HVIP) at Reading Hospital and provide community education and resources.
Reading Hospital will hire and train a Trauma Violence Recovery Specialist who will provide support, case management, and referral services to hospitalized victims of community violence; purchase equipment and operating supplies required to implement programming; and support staff participation in violence intervention program-related conferences and education, Tower Health said.
“This grant will help us save lives and help our patients recover,” said Dr. Charles F. Barbera, Reading Hospital president. “In implementing our hospital-based violence intervention program we anticipate reducing the overall incidence of gun violence, injury, and retaliatory violence. We also hope to see a decline in the number of patients who are victims of violent injury.”
HVIPs provide direct services to violently injured individuals and their families and take a public health approach to violence prevention, Barbera said.
Data indicates that victims of violence are often at elevated risk for reinjury or engaging in retaliatory violence. Tower Health said HVIPs provide targeted services to high-risk populations and work to identify and reduce risk factors, such as substance misuse, unemployment, and lack of schooling, while promoting protective factors, such as social supports and educational attainment.
The Trauma Violence Recovery Specialist will meet with violently injured patients at the hospital bedside or soon after their discharge from the emergency department.
“The Violence Recovery Specialist will play a critical role in the recovery of this patient population,” said Desha Dickson, Tower Health vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Community Wellness. “This individual will break down barriers through shared experiences and be responsible to assess the patients’ current needs and circumstances and help set goals and generate awareness of potential opportunities available to them including medical coverage, compensation, education and career goals, and housing stability.”
The specialist will be familiar with the City of Reading community and trained in crisis intervention, linkages to community-based services, mentoring, home visits, follow-up assistance, and long-term case management, Tower Health said.
The grant funding will also ensure Reading Hospital can work with local community partners including the Pennsylvania State Police and The Village of Reading to continue “Stop the Bleed” trainings for local youth and community members.
“Guns are the leading cause of death for children in the U.S.,” said Dr. Christopher Valente chief, Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Reading Hospital. “Earlier this year all Tower Health hospitals, including Reading Hospital, joined other health systems in the region to help protect children from gun violence through education and safety efforts.”
The campaign, “It Doesn’t Kill to Ask,” focuses on providing caregivers, parents, and community members with tools to speak up about safe gun storage and empower them to ask other parents about access to guns in the home.
“I’m glad this grant will align with the goals of the ‘It Doesn’t Kill to Ask’ initiative by hosting gun safety education events in our community and distributing gun locks to keep everyone safe from gun violence,” Valente said.