MUSC violence intervention program starts seeing patients


Man threatening with pocket knife

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina’s first hospital-based program to help prevent violence is now starting to work with patients. The Medical University of South Carolina has created a violence intervention program with the help of community partnerships and support from stakeholders.

The goal is to help patients suffering from injuries related to violence, promote recovery, and improve their outcomes after the injury.

“Unfortunately, we see a lot of violence-related injuries at MUSC and really all over South Carolina,” MUSC Dr. Ashley Hink said. “We have one of the highest homicide rates in the country, and we saw a significant increase in violence related injuries in the last year. This is a major issue that needs investment.”

The program centers around caring and building relationships with victims of violence, as well as connect them to resources and monitor their recovery process both in and out of the hospital.

“We visit that the patients that are inpatient here and we try to see why they came here and how we can help,” program client advocate Donnimechia Singleton said. “We also try to figure out what caused the incident and provide wrap around services as they leave, because there could be many issues that caused that situation like employment, homelessness, lack of care.”

Ronald Dickerson, the program’s director, says even though the program has just started, they are seeing progress.

“I have seen the process work from the emergency department all the way up to the home, and we have actually been through that process, so we are looking at success as it occurs,” Dickerson said.

Like Singleton, Keith Smalls is a community leader who has volunteered to help care for the patients.

He says working to prevent violence has been important to him ever since he lost his son to gun violence in 2016.

“I often look at the experience I had with my son, and I wonder how things would be different if this had been implemented then, but I do see success coming almost immediately,” Smalls said.

Hink says this type of evidence-based program has been implemented in different ways across the country and have helped reduce violence in communities.

“A lot of cities have started funding them because it helps address many issues, and states have passed legislation to fund community and hospital-based violence intervention efforts,” Hink said. " There are major opportunities in South Carolina and in Charleston to invest in these programs. "

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