New program hopes to curb Cincinnati violence by helping gunshot victims in the hospital

The city of Cincinnati is spending $600,000 on a program to offer mental health and social services to gunshot victims in hospitals alongside their medical treatment.

At a Tuesday press conference, Mayor Aftab Pureval and City Manager Sheryl Long announced this new program. The city designated the money from the general fund for violence prevention last year and then accepted proposals to use the funds.

Hospital-based intervention programs, as they are called, have seen success in other cities. Cincinnati’s version will be a collaboration between the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Long said this is just the latest effort to curb gun violence, particularly among juveniles, which the city prioritized after the Smale Park shooting in 2021.

Long said the ongoing violence makes her feel helpless but programs like this can save lives.

The decision to launch this comes in the wake of a record number of teens shot in 2023 and multiple high-profile attacks involving juveniles downtown.

“When crime evolves, our response has to evolve,” Long said. “We’re creating that change right now.”

What is a hospital-based intervention program

The first hospital-based interventions program was launched in Oakland in 1994 alongside other community-based intervention programs, according to the Center for American Progress.

Drs. Amy Makley from the UC Medical Center and Meera Kotagal from Children’s Hospital explained that violence prevention professions will meet with the victims of gun violence and their families at the hospital in the immediate wake of a shooting.

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Those professionals will connect the victims with “wraparound service” including mental health support and other community resources. By addressing the root causes of the violence for each victim individually, Makley said trauma will be reduced as well as re-injury.

She said instead of helping the victim for a day or two, the support will continue for months.

Makley said that while Cincinnati’s hospitals are great at treating the immediate physical injuries caused by gun violence, they have historically not done well at addressing the mental and psychological injuries.

Dr. Amy Makley, the trauma director at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, speaks Tuesday at City Hall about a new hospital-based program to curb gun violence.Dr. Amy Makley, the trauma director at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, speaks Tuesday at City Hall about a new hospital-based program to curb gun violence.

Dr. Amy Makley, the trauma director at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, speaks Tuesday at City Hall about a new hospital-based program to curb gun violence.

Makley said UC Medical Center and Children’s Hospital treat about 500 victims of gun violence each year. She said this violence disproportionately affects young Black men.

Studies have shown that victims of gun violence are more likely to be victims again, and Makley said this re-injury rate can be as high as 45%.

Other programs

There are dozens of hospital-based intervention programs around the country. Assistant City Manager Virginia Tallent said Cincinnati will be the first to have a joint adult and pediatric program.

At the University of Maryland Medical Center, an intervention program has been in place since 1998. The hospital reports that the program has led to a decline in violent re-injury, recidivism, jail time, cost of incarceration and unemployment for participants compared to those who don’t participate.

In October, the University of Texas Health Science Center of Houston was awarded a $6.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to launch a program.

Cincinnati’s “Out of Crossfire” program was launched in 2006 using a similar, but more limited model, at UC Medical Center. While hailed as successful, the program ran out of funding in 2010, according to Enquirer reporting at the time.

City hires violence reduction manager

At the Tuesday press conference, Long also announced the hiring of DeAngelo Rosa Harris as the city’s new violence reduction manager.

Harris will work directly under Long and begin the job Feb. 19. He was previously the deputy director of Philadelphia’s Office of Violence Prevention.

Harris will is tasked with coordinating and collaborating with community-based violence intervention program, non-profit and faith groups, as well as the new program at the hospital.

What’s next

UC Medical Center is working to hire the needed professionals to staff the program. Makley said it is scheduled to be operation by this summer.

Long said continued funding the program will be a priority for the city, but did not outline exactly what the future spending would look like.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: New program will offer resources to gunshot victims in the hospital


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