Medical Advocacy

Medical Advocacy Project

The DVCC Medical Advocacy Project (MAP) is committed to establishing comprehensive collaborations and strengthening alliances within the health care system in order to improve the physical, psychological and emotional well-being of victims of intimate partner violence.

In the fall of 2008, the DVCC developed the first Medical Advocacy Project in the state of Connecticut, using a curriculum pioneered by the Kaiser Permanente Family Violence Prevention Program and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence Medical Advocacy Program. Studies have shown that intimate partner violence is a major public health issue, and it is essential that victims in medical settings be provided with information and referred for services to advance their safety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, IPV is 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. The CDC estimates the annual cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion.

The Medical Advocacy Project promotes earlier identification of victims through the use of universal screening at point of entry to the healthcare system; provides onsite advocacy services to IPV victims in hospitals, clinics, medical offices and police settings; and implements a comprehensive educational training program for all physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals.

MAP services include:

  • The MAP Response Team, which provides 24/7, immediate, onsite services at hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices and police settings. The MAP Team offers crisis counseling, safety planning, legal services, SafeHouses and housing advocacy, and referrals to community resources.
  • Comprehensive educational trainings for administrators, doctors, physician’s assistants, nursing staff, medical technicians, security, maintenance and support staff and volunteers in medical settings.  MAP trainings are tailored to fit the needs of the provider in each field of healthcare and cover a variety of topics, including:
1. Understanding the long and short-term health effects of IPV
2. Signs to look for and questions to ask when screening
3. Addressing the comfort barriers of medical professionals and patients when screening
4. How to refer appropriately when a screen is positive
  • Health care and screening provided to residents in DVCC SafeHouses.
  • Screenings for domestic violence provided at Norwalk Community Health Center and at Optimus in Stamford
  • Health Fairs conducted by nursing students in the UCONN Masters Entry into Nursing Program provide DVCC clients with health screening and information

MAP Partnerships and Trainings:

MAP’s collaborative partnership with Stamford Hospital provides ongoing training on IPV to all hospital medical professionals and support staff. Through the partnership, Stamford Hospital seeks to adopt the CDC’s RADAR system, a training device which encourages healthcare providers to incorporate IPV screening into practice, and then track and measure its progress in improving its institutional response to IPV victims. An IPV Task Force at Stamford Hospital comprises physicians, nurses, social workers, administrative staff, security staff and DVCC staff, who meet monthly to discuss the partnership initiative and systemic change.

MAP Trainings at other facilities include:

  • Yale University Hospital Nursing Staff
  • Fairfield County Medical Association
  • Stamford Community Health Centers
  • Norwalk Community Health Centers
  • Optimus Clinics
  • Norwalk Community College School of Nursing
  • UCONN Masters Entry into Nursing Program
  • EMS providers

Physician Outreach: MAP provides the most up-to-date recommendations in screening, interviewing and intervening in IPV cases to private physicians and their staff. Thirty minute trainings include:

  • Signs and symptoms of Intimate Partner Violence
  • Screening Methods: Recommendations for Comprehensive Interviewing
  • Importance of Documentation: Techniques and Advice on How to Begin Building a Case for Your Patient
  • The Effects of IPV on Children
  • Elder Abuse: Pinpointing Signs and Taking Action