BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – After years of waiting, local city and health leaders are partnering together to provide those hit by gunfire the resources and tools they need to not only recover, but to have a better future than past.
The Mayor and several others announced the Hospital-linked violence intervention pilot program Wednesday.
Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson cites COVID as a huge cause in the program’s delay, but he also believes this program could save lives. The goal, to reduce the risk of reinjury for those who have survived a gunshot wound.
“Last year we took care of 1,300 victims of firearm related injury, which is a fourfold increase since 2010, so the numbers are definitely increasing,” said UAB Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery Director Dr. Jeffrey Kerby.
Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson says the numbers aren’t good. He cited one study that indicates 40% of the people struck by a gunshot will be hospitalized with another violent injury, while 20% will be dead within five years. It’s data like this that has caused so many to come together for this project.
“It is designed to demonstrate that through unity, all of us working together, we can, we will, and we must address gun violence,” said Offender Alumni Association Executive Director Deborah Daniels.
The program will be available to those between the ages of 19 and 39. Once in the hospital, a violence intervention specialist will connect with the patient and determine how to help on a case by case basis.
“The initial intake is finding out what happened and how we can help and what the patient actually need. What are the deficits, we go from there to setting up an action plan so that before they get discharged from the hospital they know what are the primary needs they have,” said Violence Intervention Supervisor Carmone Owens.
The Mayor stresses this is just the city’s latest effort to curb gun violence. He points to multiple conflict resolution courses and the city’s effort to fund mental health support systems for students as additional examples.
“All of that collectively still can do it if the community does not step up as well. The government can not do it all,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin.
Right now, seven participants are already using the program. One intervention specialist stressed the work is not glamorous, but it is glamorous to the people they help.
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