SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Medical Center and Roca Springfield are launching a first-in-the-region hospital-based violence-intervention program called Better Tomorrow to serve as a vital public-health response to violence in local communities.
Funded with a $1 million U.S. Department of Justice grant through the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program, the joint effort will combine medical staff and community-based service providers to intervene with victims of violence in hospital settings, connect them with community services, and reduce further victimization and violent behaviors.
“Our mission is to decrease violence related to firearms and other forms of intentional injury in our community by increasing access to violence-prevention initiatives,” said Dr. Kristina Kramer, a trauma and acute-care surgeon at Baystate Medical Center who is serving as medical director of Better Tomorrow. “Our collaboration with Roca will enable us to work toward a common goal of reducing preventable injuries and death resulting from firearm violence.”
For the past 11 years, Roca Springfield has been supporting young men and women in Greater Springfield with its internationally recognized violence-intervention effort directed at those most likely to be involved with community violence.
“Roca transforms communities plagued by violence in two ways,” said Chris Judd, vice president of Roca Springfield and Holyoke. “First, we work long-term with young people to teach life-saving emotional skills to overcome their hurt and anger and see a future where they’re not in a casket or serving a life sentence by age 20. And second, we work with institutions to change how they think about helping young people who are traumatized. It takes relentlessness, seeing hope when all hope seems lost, and never giving up.”
Hospital-based violence intervention programs are multi-disciplinary teams designed to identify patients who are at risk of repeat violent injury and connect them with hospital- and community-based resources to help address underlying risk factors for violence. Research shows that these programs reduce repeat victimization and criminal-justice involvement while also decreasing healthcare and other costs associated with violence. They improve quality of life for patients by addressing disparities in access to healthcare, transportation, case management, and a range of other social determinants of health.
Kramer noted that trauma centers play an important role in reducing the impact of injury by participating in prevention efforts. These efforts are based on identifying specific injuries and risk factors in patients, families, and the community.
“Baystate is the only level-1 trauma center in Western Massachusetts with an obligation to aid injury-prevention efforts in our community,” she said. “Better Tomorrow is an example of a program that will serve people who are at increased/higher risk for intentional injury and interpersonal violence.”