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Programs Provide Long-Term Support for Local, Regional and Statewide Victims of Physical and Mental Trauma

The Trauma Recovery Center (TRC) and Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program (HVIP) at University Hospital (UH) recently received the Crime Victims’ Rights Award by the State of New Jersey. Additionally, the work of both programs, in partnership with the City of Newark, were honored as part of the City’s recognition as a My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Alliance Model Community. The TRC and HVIP, operated by the Hospital’s Department of Community and Population Health in cooperation with the Eric Muñoz Trauma Center, support the long-term recovery of victims of physical and mental trauma.

“We commend the City of Newark and members of our Hospital family that work daily to reduce violence and trauma in our communities. We are grateful that President Obama and his Foundation have recognized the hard work that Mayor Baraka, his team, and community partners are doing to reduce violence and trauma at the local level. It is validation that these types of programs are having a positive impact on the lives of our neighbors,” said Ed Jimenez, President and CEO of University Hospital. “These programs from UH are a pioneering combination of trauma-informed mental health care, survivor-centered healing, and efforts that focus on the root causes of violence in the community.”

In honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, NJ Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, the Division of Violence Intervention and Victim Assistance (VIVA), the Victims of Crime Compensation Office (VCCO), the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ), and the State Office of Victim Witness Advocacy (SOVWA) presented the Crime Victims’ Rights Award on April 29 in Trenton. The event amplified survivor voices, raised awareness of important resources and services, and highlighted the role a variety of healthcare disciplines and public services play in the healing journeys of crime victims statewide.

Newark is one of only four cities nationwide to be selected by the Obama Foundation as an MBK Alliance Model Community. With six key Milestones for Success in the lives of boys and young men of color, MBK named Newark for its accomplishments in Milestone Six: Remaining Safe from Violent Crime. With the other five milestones centered on education and employment, Newark was acknowledged for exemplary achievement in reducing violence and trauma in the community. Mayor Ras J. Baraka’s Administration and MBK Newark have been instrumental in reducing shootings in Newark by 35 percent in just the last year, and bringing homicides to a 60-year low, reducing homicides by 55 percent since 2013.

“University Hospital has been an outstanding partner in our efforts to treat crime and violence as a public health issue through our city-wide comprehensive public safety ecosystem that includes the Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery and MBK Newark,” said Mayor Baraka. “This award is such a well-deserved recognition of University Hospital’s dedication to our residents’ health and wellbeing. Together, we will continue to deepen our commitment to ending generational cycles of trauma by targeting its root causes and mitigating its aftermath.”

“Both programs offer services to victims of interpersonal and community violence, including gunshot wounds, assaults, domestic violence, human trafficking, survivors of homicide, vehicular assault, and hate crimes, among others. Taking a patient-centered approach, each morning the teams co-huddle to review each patient’s chart and decide which program would best suit the individual,” said Colette Barrow Adams, PhD, MPA, MDiv, Executive Director, Community and Population Health. “Statistics show that these types of recovery programs help patients make monumental strides in recovery from the deep impacts of trauma.”

The Hospital and the Eric Muñoz Trauma Center sees an average of 4,200 trauma patients annually, with approximately 1,600 being victims of violence and more than 600 firearm injury victims. This places University Hospital among the highest volume facilities for penetrating trauma in the nation. In 2017, UH launched New Jersey’s first HVIP and has supported over 600 patients in the ensuing years, with an engagement rate of over 70% and an early positive outcome rate of greater than 60%. In 2021, the Hospital started the TRC, uniquely positioning it as the first HVIP/TRC hospital collaborative model in the state.

Both programs are funded through grant support from numerous public and private sources, including the State of New Jersey. Recently, New Jersey provided $750,000 in grant funding for the Trauma Recovery Center and an $866,400 grant for the Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program.

“Ultimately, our enduring goal is to create sustainable, life-saving initiatives that improve the health of our patients and keep our community safe. These two programs are wonderful examples of how University Hospital extends care to patients beyond our physical healthcare campus,” said Jess Backofen, Executive Director, University Hospital Foundation, which coordinates all grant and donor funding for Hospital programs. “Funders of these programs are making an investment that has a long-lasting impact on Newark, the regional community, and the State as a whole.”

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