How the Program Works
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.