Patient Care

HEAL Program Offers Holistic Care for Victims of Interpersonal Violence

Jan. 30, 2017
"HEAL is a critical step to improving the safety, health and well-being of violence-involved people," says program co-director Kate Cerulli, JD, PhD.

Victims of interpersonal violence (IPV) in the Rochester area now have a new resource that for the very first time gives them access to social, emotional and legal services all in one place.

Overseen by URMC’s Department of Psychiatry and headquartered on the Strong Memorial Hospital campus, the HEAL program is a collective endeavor of URMC and several partnering social service agencies. Collaborators include Willow Domestic Violence Center (formerly Alternatives for Battered Women), the Rochester Police Department, RESOLVE, the Legal Aid Society of Rochester, Lifespan and Monroe Family Court.
HEAL clients receive services including safety planning and linkages to emergency shelter, social work consultation and a comprehensive needs assessment, short-term mental health support, assistance in filing petitions for temporary orders of protection and other legal matters, and referrals to community resources.
“The positive relationships we share, and the support we’ve received from our community partners, have enabled us to offer a long-overdue, holistic approach to caring for local IPV victims,” said program co-director Catherine (Kate) Cerulli, JD, PhD, associate professor of Psychiatry who also directs the Susan B. Anthony Center and the Laboratory of Interpersonal Violence and Victimization. “It’s a critical step to improving the safety, health, and well-being of violence-involved people.”
Cerulli credits her project team and URMC administration for recognizing the need for the program, which was developed as part of Strong Hospital’s improvement plan, and came to fruition after several years of coordination.
Whereas IPV victims previously had to navigate the complex system on their own to find shelter and legal advice, identified patients can now be referred directly to HEAL by URMC Emergency physicians, primary care, mental health and Ob-Gyn providers. The program not only does the navigating in partnership with them, it also provides the mental health support many IPV victims desperately need as a result of trauma and abuse.
“The program originated from the need to close a very real gap in addressing the complex concerns of IPV patients that often impede their health and can result in repeated emergency visits,” said Cerulli. “The goal is to decrease the burden on patients and on the health care system.”
One of the most important aspects of the program is that all HEAL clients complete a confidential intake survey on an iPad that helps providers identify each person’s interwoven physical, psychological and social needs, and tailor resources accordingly.
“The HEAL clinic gives the Willow Center’s mobile advocates a’ home base’ inside the hospital to provide essential services for domestic violence survivors,” said Jaime Saunders, president and CEO of Willow Domestic Violence Center. “This model does not exist anywhere else in the nation and puts critical support directly where the need is. Whether it’s a patient receiving routine care, a walk-in patient from the Emergency Department, or the tens of thousands of UR employees, the access barrier is removed.”
Heal finance manager and team leader Michelle A. ReQua, a survivor of interpersonal violence, said the program will help people like her who had difficulty navigating the system to escape abuse.
“This clinic will help victims understand the cycle of abuse,” said ReQua. “It will help them get the assistance they need, and empower them become liberated from the abuse, mentally and/or physically.”
Willow Domestic Violence Center, which offers comprehensive crisis support and services, including a 24/7 hotline, safety planning, short-term counseling, emergency shelter, court accompaniment, support groups, and prevention education and training
Resolve of Greater Rochester, offers short-term individual counseling, safety planning, co-parenting support, community referrals, support groups, financial and career counseling.
The Legal Aid Society of Rochester (LAS) provides civil legal services for victims of domestic violence. LAS will assist HEAL patients in a variety of matters, including Family Offense Proceedings, custody and visitation matters, matrimonial proceedings, child support and housing issues.
The Rochester Police Department has a Victim’s Assistance Unit that serves victims and witnesses of crimes in the City of Rochester, as well as their families.
Lifespan provides elder abuse prevention and intervention services in Monroe and nine other Finger Lakes counties. The agency works through multi-disciplinary teams to ensure justice for victims of elder abuse/financial exploitation.
Monroe County Family Court will be working with HEAL to provide remote access to Temporary Orders of Protection to clients in need.
Referrals to HEAL can be made through URMC’s Departments of Emergency, the URMC Primary Care Network (27 locations), as well as the Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pediatrics and Psychiatry. Call 275-HEAL or visit the HEAL website.
If you feel you are in a dangerous relationship, call 911, local hotline (585) 222-SAFE (7233), or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.