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DVCC's Medical Advocacy Project Partners With Stamford Hospital

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Domestic violence is the number one public health issue facing women and children and the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States; more than car accidents, rapes and muggings combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recognizing this, the DVCC and Stamford Hospital have created a partnership that will integrate the services provided by the DVCC's Medical Advocacy Project (MAP) and the expertise of Stamford Hospital's medical professionals in order to better serve victims of domestic violence. The partnership was formalized in August and announced to the public and news media last week.

The DVCC developed its Medical Advocacy Project 18 months ago with the goal of building comprehensive collaborations within the health care system and creating systems change in order to ensure that victims of domestic violence are identified and are given access to a broad range of services. Modeled after successful programs in other states such as Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Minnesota and California, it is the first domestic violence medical advocacy program in the state of Connecticut.

"Health care providers across the United States have become increasingly aware that addressing domestic violence as part of comprehensive patient care is not only a moral responsibility, but also a social necessity, given that the CDC estimates the annual cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion and that so many studies that have shown chronic domestic violence to have a devastating impact on the health of victims and their children," said Susan Delaney, the Director of DVCC's Medical Advocacy Project. "Thanks to the enthusiastic response by Stamford Hospital medical professionals and their recognition that domestic violence is an under reported and serious issue with many patients, we have been able to develop a working relationship in a very short period of time."

While Stamford Hospital already adheres to the domestic violence health care standards established by the Joint Commission, this new initiative addresses the issue in a more comprehensive manner. Specifically, the program will promote earlier identification of domestic violence victims, offer onsite advocacy services, provide training on domestic violence for health care professionals and evaluate intervention methods.

With regard to training, Stamford Hospital will implementan educational program to ensure all employees are informed about domestic violence - what it is, how to identify and assess it, how to properly document it, and how to ensure patients receive attention in a timely fashion.  The DVCC will provide ongoing training on domestic violence to Hospital staff and work closely with them to enhance screening procedures.

"Our goal is to educate all Hospital employees as to howto identify victims, especially women, earlier in the cycle of injury," said Mary Henwood-Klotz, MPH, of Stamford Hospital's Center for Integrative Medicine & Wellness. "We look forward to working closely with the DVCC on this initiative and further developing all aspects of the partnership." 

Through the partnership with the DVCC, Stamford Hospital seeks to adopt the CDC's RADAR system, a training device which encourages health care providers to incorporate domestic violence screening into practice.  Stamford Hospital can then effectively track and measure its progress in improving its institutional response to victims of domestic violence.

During the past year, DVCC's Medical Advocacy Project has provided numerous trainings to medicalprofessional groups in Stamford and Norwalk, developed short, comprehensive trainings for medical offices and clinics throughout the community and formed the MAP Team, which provides 24/7, immediate, onsite services for victims of domestic violence at hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices and police settings.