Violence Intervention Program Honored Nationally for Impact on Young Victims

Local program 1 of 5 recognized by American Hospital Association for improving community health

June 27, 2011

The Rochester Youth Violence Partnership team includes Michael A. Scharf, M.D., assistant professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, Jeff Rideout, M.S.W., pediatric social worker, and Mark L. Gestring, M.D., medical director of the Kessler Trauma Center and director of the anti-violence program.

The Rochester Youth Violence Partnership, an intervention program developed by the University of Rochester Medical Center, has been honored with the American Hospital Association’s prestigious NOVA Award for its commitment to improving community health.

Headed by the Medical Center’s Kessler Burn and Trauma Center, the Rochester Youth Violence Partnership (RYVP) is a hospital-based violence intervention program that helps trauma victims under the age of 18 who have been shot or stabbed.

“We are thrilled to be acknowledged at the national level for work that is truly having an impact on our local youth,” said Mark L. Gestring, M.D., medical director of the Kessler Trauma Center and director of the anti-violence program. RYVP last year was spotlighted as an honorable mention for the 2010 Community Health Improvement Award by the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS).

“Our collaboration with dozens of organizations in the Rochester region has allowed us to reach hundreds of young adults, helping them and their families understand that the majority of these injuries are not random and that actions can be taken to avoid further injury,” Gestring said. “We have worked hard to develop a program that provides victims and their families the resources that they need to stay safe and to end the cycle of violence that frequently develops.”

Established in 2006, the RYVP is a partnership supported by more than 30 local non-profit, government and service-based organizations, including Golisano Children's Hospital at URMC and Rochester General Hospital. The Medical Center serves as the “first responder” by treating injuries and identifying at-risk patients. Once the patient is stabilized, RYVP staff use a series of hospital-based interventions to identify and address risk factors and develop personalized follow-up plans. These interventions include sharing an anti-violence video, regular home visits and emotional support for at-risk youth and their families, and mobile mental health crisis services to help prevent future violent episodes. Community partner organizations play a vital role in this process, which is designed to protect victims from further violence. To date, more than 215 youths have been enrolled in the program. Recidivism rates are low, Gestring said, with less than 10 percent returning as a result of violence.

In addition to Gestring, the Medical Center youth violence program team includes Michael A. Scharf, M.D., assistant professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, and Jeff Rideout, M.S.W., pediatric social worker at Golisano Children's Hospital.

The initiative is another example of the University of Rochester Medical Center’s strong commitment to improving the health of the Rochester region, according to Nancy M. Bennett, M.D., director of the URMC Center for Community Health.

“This recognition by the American Hospital Association and its NOVA Award is a testament to the innovative work being done by the Rochester Youth Violence Partnership, said Steven I. Goldstein, CEO of URMC’s Strong Memorial Hospital. “Its robust alliance with area hospitals, organizations and agencies is providing at-risk young people and their families with targeted services designed to address risk factors and prevent re-injury due to violence.”

The award will be presented at a July 19 ceremony during the AHA/Health Forum Leadership Summit in San Diego. In addition to URMC’s program, the AHA also is honoring the Diabetes Collaborative in Chicago, Emergency Department Consistent Care Program in Olympia, Wash., Integrated Community Nursing Program at Parkview Health in Fort Wayne, Ind., and the Milwaukee Health Partnership, Milwaukee and Glendale, Wis.

The American Hospital Association is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the improvement of health in their communities. It is the national advocate for its members, which includes more than 5,000 member hospitals, health systems and other health care organizations, and nearly 40,000 individual members.

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Karin Christensen
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