Thanks to generous supporters like you, Regional One Health Foundation funded the pilot for a new Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program. The program is playing a critical role in helping at-risk youth escape violence and poverty to pursue better, more positive opportunities.
As the Medical Director of the Elvis Presley Trauma Center at Regional One Health, Dr. Martin Croce sees firsthand the desperate need to take action as he treats the physical wounds of young victims of violent crimes.
“Intervention programs can go a long way in helping young people escape the cycle of violence,” says Dr. Croce. “By strengthening outcomes for these at-risk youth, we are strengthening the future of our entire city for generations to come.”
Elgin Tunstall is the liaison for the Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program. He works with trauma patients who have been injured by an act of violence. These patients are young adults between the ages of 14 and 25—people “who are still open to change and a different way of life,” says Elgin.
Elgin is a perfect fit for his role. He spent his 14-year career mentoring and coaching at-risk youth and feels it’s his calling to help them move beyond their tough environments and prepare for a better future.
“Once these young trauma patients are past the critical injury stage and are on the mend, that’s where I step in,” says Elgin. “Through this innovative approach, we have the opportunity to do more than heal the physical injuries of these young people. Our goal is to be a part of helping them become productive citizens.”
The program provides counseling and support services that help patients see they have options that go beyond remaining in the tough cycle of poverty and violence that is deeply entrenched in some of our community’s neighborhoods.
In the three years since the intervention program began, 105 at-risk patients have chosen to participate. The process starts with an individualized plan that outlines immediate needs and long-term goals. Then patients are connected with the resources and people they will need to support them as they begin their transitions.
Partners include Shelby County Schools, HOPE Works, Memphis Job Corps, Family Safety Center, G.R.A.S.S.Y., and several others who help clients get safely re-established in the community.
“We could not do this alone,” says Elgin. “By building and maintaining relationships across the community, we are able to address the many factors that can lead someone to choose a lifestyle of violence, and instead give them better options.”
The percentage of trauma victims who returned for a separate violent injury was as high as 44 percent before the intervention program. For those enrolled in the program, the rate is four percent.
THE PROGRAM IS DRIVING REAL CHANGE. WE’VE SEEN A SHARP DECLINE IN THE RECIDIVISM RATE (THE RATE OF REPEAT VISITS) OF THESE YOUNG PEOPLE.
“Because of our generous supporters,” says Dr. Croce, “we are able to offer hope and a new way of life to young people who don’t feel they fit in anywhere other than in those violent lifestyles.”
It’s important to note that major lifestyle transformations, such as those the program seeks, do not happen quickly. For starters, serious violent-crime injuries can require more than half a year of recovery. Plus, youth typically must go back to the same home and neighborhood that they lived in prior to their injuries.
Yet, real change in their lives can be made. When you choose to invest your hard-earned dollars in Regional One Health Foundation, you’re investing in a brighter future for people across our entire community.