(Boston) – Nov. 2, 2015 – Boston Medical Center’s (BMC) Violence Intervention Advocacy Program (VIAP), directed by Thea James, MD, vice president of mission and associate chief medical officer, has been awarded a $997,966 grant from the Office of Victims of Crime, administered by the U.S. Department of Justice. The grant will be used to develop and support programs at BMC designed specifically for male survivors of violence.
VIAP, which serves as a national model for other hospitals across the country, is a hospital-based violence intervention program serving more than 450 clients each year; 68 percent of whom are black males (average age range 16-29). VIAP serves clients who are accidental or intentional victims of shootings and stabbings who are treated at BMC, the region’s largest safety-net hospital. VIAP and its community-based collaborators offer comprehensive care that provides medical, behavioral health, and support services to male survivors of violence, their family members and significant others for two years or more.
“So far in 2015, BMC has treated 275 males who are victims of violence, ranging in age from just 5 years old, to 63,” James said. “Our goal is to guide and empower these young men and their families, help them avoid violent situations and lifestyles, and provide them with the support, tools and resources to secure employment and safe housing, in addition to providing necessary medical and behavioral care.”
James continued, “Many of these young men have grown up in neighborhoods without resources and opportunities for thriving and success. Many have grown up witnessing gangs and violence, without exposure to lifestyles that nurture their talents, strengths and that lead to a positive trajectory. We are here to help them realize that they have options.”
The grant will be used to support a demonstration project that, through its partnerships with community-based programs, will allow VIAP to identify gaps and barriers to care and support, and develop an action plan to meet the needs of male survivors, their families and significant others. Gaps already identified include lack of resources to help male victims find employment and housing; and a lack of trauma-informed care, which is commonly used in behavioral health settings but is not often found in community-based settings. Trauma-informed care is a treatment model that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma.
VIAP, co-founded by James in 2006, is a co-founder of the National Network of Hospital Based Violence Intervention Programs (NNHVIP), which has grown to more than 28 programs nationwide and internationally.
“No one grows up dreaming of a life surrounded by violence, but very often, the patients we see in our emergency department and in VIAP don’t believe they have, or deserve, a choice,” James said. “This grant will help us to provide better services and support to the hundreds of men we see in our emergency department and in the community who are shooting or stabbing victims, so that we can better help them escape lives of violence and teach them how to provide for their families by helping them to get well, and by providing social support and services such as job training and placement services, housing assistance and so much more.”