SPRINGFIELD,Pa.Crozer-Chester Medical Center, the flagship facility at Crozer Health, Delaware County, Pa., is announcing the development of a partnership with Chester Peace Initiative (CPI) and Chester Community Coalition (CCC) to address the coordination of care and support for victims of violence, and to prevent retaliatory violence in the City of Chester. The three organizations are coming together to scrutinize the root causes of violence and interrupt the cycle. “We recognize the need for interagency communication, interoperability and cooperation to positively impact the prevalence of community violence in the City of Chester,” the collaboration agreement says.

Plans include peer intervention, trauma-informed therapeutic support, intensive case management and connection to resources that prevent re-injury for patients injured by intentional violence in the City of Chester, and more broadly in Delaware County.

Crozer Chester Medical Center is the only Level II trauma center accredited by the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation in Delaware County, Pa. The facility treats more than 2,000 trauma patients each year from the tristate area (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware). The trauma team, comprised of five board certified trauma surgeons and six trauma certified nurse practitioners observed a sharp increase in the number of patients in 2020, treating an additional 200 trauma patients.

“We see the impact of community violence every day in the trauma center. While the physical trauma that community violence creates is an acute medical problem, we recognize that the causes and repercussions must be treated in both the operating room and the community,” shares Asanthi M. Ratnasekera, D.O. Chief of Trauma Surgery at Crozer Health. “This partnership is a collaborate effort to address the fundamental causes and help our community heal beyond physical wounds.”

CCC’s mission is “to heal the psychological and emotional impact of homicides and reduce trauma-related reactive violence in the City of Chester.” According to CCC’s Executive Director, Alexia Clarke, MPH, “We are excited about this collaboration with Crozer Health and CPI. Being shot is a trauma that pervades– impacting one’s ability to function physically, emotionally, socially, and mentally. Supporting survivors in recovering a sense of safety and power are critical aspects of healing the individual and interrupting cycles of violence. Working together to support survivor recovery enhances the collective impact of all ongoing efforts to stem violence in the City of Chester.”

“Many refer to acts of violence as senseless, when in reality anything senseless can’t appropriately be addressed. Violence is a public health issue that can and must be addressed like any other health crisis. This collaboration with Crozer Health and CCC will help our community address personal acts of violence through intentional intervention that seeks reconciliation and restoration of all parties involved. It makes sense to work together on this so that we model what is possible for communities working together.” added Pastor Ron Williams, Program Manager at CPI.

“This is vitally important work,” said Crozer Health CEO, Peter Adamo. “The key to making a real difference in addressing the effects of violence in any community is collaboration, so our new partnership with CPI and CCC is destined to have a notable and tangible impact in Delaware County neighborhoods.”

According to data from the CCC, the Chester murder rate for young men who were between the ages of 15 to 34 during 2016 to 2019 is roughly the same as the average hostile death rate for combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. If those homicide rates continue, six percent of 15- year-old boys would be murdered before reaching age 35.

“Homicide bereavement in disadvantaged communities of color takes a heavy toll beyond the grief that accompanies any death of a loved one: depression, complicated grief and PTSD that extend many years after the loss. Families exhaust their savings and borrow to cover funeral costs. Children suffer intrusive re-imaginings, angry outbursts, or hypervigilance,” according to CCC. “The most effective violence prevention programs focus on the persons at greatest risk for being perpetrators and victims of violence.” In a city the size of Chester, they concluded, that would be about 170 young men typically accounting for up to 70 percent of gun violence.

Without intervention, up to 45 percent of people with a stab or gunshot wound will be reinjured within five years, and 20 percent of violently injured people will be killed within five years, they said.

To learn more about hospital-based violence intervention programs, visit this website, and to read about the Chester Community Coalition, click here.