$1.6M grant aims to help survivors of violence

By EMILY MCDONALD | November 29, 2018

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), a philanthropic organization, donated $1.6 million to the Bloomberg School of Public Health to expand resources for survivors of violence in East Baltimore. 

The grant will allow for collaboration between the Hopkins Medical institutes and community partners, aiming to prevent trauma in the aftermath of violence. 

Philip Leaf, director of the Center for Adolescent Health and a professor in the Bloomberg School Department of Mental Health, will oversee the implementation of the grant. 

Leaf will collaborate with Carol Vidal, assistant professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the School of Medicine; Nathan Irvin, assistant professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine; and various community leaders. 

Vidal explained that the School of Public Health will use the grant to expand mental health resources in the Baltimore community, to train doctors at the Hospital in trauma-informed care and to hire a social worker who will follow up on patients outside of a hospital setting. 

Vidal said that some of these measures have already been implemented. For example, the Hospital and various community organizations recently came together to train East Baltimore school psychologists and psychiatrists in treatment tactics for children who have experienced trauma. 

She is most excited about the community ties that the grant will help create.

“The Hospital is doing a lot of things well already, but it’ll be nice to have a framework and create a system that makes it part of the culture,” she said. “It creates a link with the community that’s stronger, because the Hospital sometimes can be isolated in the way we deliver care, but this program propagates a prolongation of the hospital into the community.”

Vidal added that this is particularly important in Baltimore, which has high rates of gun violence.

“We’re dealing with so much trauma from the community, a community that’s highly traumatized by all the gun violence and assaults and poverty, so it’s good to also have the people that work at the Hospital have more skills and to be effective in helping the community outside of the Hospital,” she said.

Vidal stressed the importance of considering a patient’s background when providing treatment. 

“Patients will behave in a certain way because of their background, so then to understand that it’s not always focusing on what’s wrong with the person but what happened to the person, is the main thing about changing the framework of how we look at the patients,” she said. 

Senior Lelya Herbst, the captain of Hopkins Emergency Response Organization (HERO), addressed the implications of the grant. She explained that knowledge of trauma-informed care is vital for both doctors and emergency responders. 

“Regardless of which facet of the healthcare profession that you’re in, whether you’re a doctor or you’re part of the direct team or you’re receiving the call or you’re responding on scene... it’s our duty and responsibility to make sure that we have the best training and awareness and empathy for the survivors,” she said. 

Herbst was also glad to see that the University would be making an effort to interact with the community — something HERO has done too, by teaching CPR and first aid at local schools and to Boy and Girl Scouts. 

Herbst believes that the University has taken steps to improve their relationship with the community in recent years. 

“We can always do more. Just when I started here as a freshmen, the Hopkins community has made a number of steps towards being more involved in the greater Baltimore community,” she said. “When you have $1.6 million at your disposal the results can be endless.” 

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