RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam Thursday announced that $2.45 million in Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant funds were awarded to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) Foundation to support the implementation of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs (HVIPs) at seven Virginia hospitals. These grants were included in the funding approved by the Criminal Justice Services Board of the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) at its May 9 meeting in Richmond.
Based on similar models used by hospital systems to address other public health concerns, the HVIP model identifies risks and provides victims of violence with educational and support services. Hospital intervention and subsequent support to connect victims to a meaningful, structured case management program are essential elements of an effective HVIP program—along with access to education, employment, mental health care, substance treatment, and housing resources.
“Medical care alone is often not sufficient for victims of violent crime, but we know that hospitalization presents a unique opportunity for effective interventions and the prevention of recurring violence,” said Governor Northam. “This collaborative effort will expand the availability of trauma-informed services, build strong partnerships between our hospitals and comprehensive community-based services, and help survivors and their families navigate local resources as they are healing.”
The HVIP will connect victims of crime with extensive wraparound services after their immediate medical needs are met. Participating hospitals will provide services that respond to the specific needs of crime victims and help them to stabilize their lives after being victimized, proceed with the potential prosecution of an assailant, and restore a sense of safety to the victim and their family.
“This funding will play a critical role in interrupting the cycle of violence in our communities, including gun violence—this is significant because we lose over 1,000 Virginians to gun violence each year,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian J. Moran. “By providing case management and counseling services for victims of violent crime, our goal is not only to improve patient outcomes, but to prevent retaliation and violence in the future.”
“All too often, frontline health care providers in hospital emergency departments are witnesses to the aftermath of shootings, stabbings, and other dangerous violence that scars victims and families for life,” said Dr. Michael P. McDermott, Chairman of the VHHA Board of Directors and President and Chief Executive Officer of Mary Washington Healthcare. “Treating victims of severe trauma caused by violence is one of the many critical functions performed by first responders and emergency medical personnel. Expanding our reach into communities through initiatives such as the Hospital-based Violence Intervention Program is another important step we can take as a hospital community to help improve public health.”
Federal VOCA funding supports the delivery of direct services to victims of crime. A crime victim, for the purpose of this grant program, is defined as a person who has suffered physical, sexual, financial, and/or emotional harm as a result of the commission of a crime. As the State Administering Agency for the Department of Justice, DCJS is responsible for administering VOCA grants and monitoring sub-recipients.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to be able to expand the availability of services and resources to benefit victims of serious violence during hospitalization and after discharge,” said DCJS Director Shannon Dion. “HVIPs in other states have demonstrated significant reductions in injury recidivism and violence prevention. This partnership with VHHA will allow us to evaluate how the HVIP model works in Virginia and measure the success of this pilot initiative.”
“Providers who work in hospitals that serve communities plagued by pockets of violence have the unfortunate distinction of seeing firsthand the harm it causes and the revolving door of re-injury that arises when victims are treated and then discharged back into the environment in which they were victimized,” said Tracey A. van Marcke, VHHA Foundation Chief Executive Officer. “This grant funding provides a unique opportunity to help mobilize hospital providers and community coalitions in a way that maximizes efforts to achieve more lasting change in crime victims’ lives.”
The VHHA Foundation, formerly the Virginia Hospital Research & Education Foundation, is the charitable non-profit affiliate of VHHA. Its focus is on improving the health of Virginians through collaboration, research, and education for Virginia’s hospitals and health systems. The foundation provides continuing education programs for Virginia’s health care professionals through conferences, seminars, and webinars. VHHA Foundation also supports research and patient safety and quality programs.
Additional information is available on the DCJS website.