Mayor Walsh visits Boston Medical Center for discussion on violence intervention, trauma support
January 8, 2014
Mayor Martin J. Walsh this morning visited Boston Medical Center to participate in a roundtable discussion with Boston Medical Center (BMC) President & CEO Kate Walsh, the City’s Chief of Health and Human Services Felix Arroyo, the Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission Barbara Ferrer, and several members of BMC's Violence Intervention Advocacy Program (VIAP), founded in 2006 to assist victims of violence in their recovery from physical and emotional trauma. In his first press event outside City Hall since his inauguration, Mayor Walsh pledged to address trauma and violence early in his term.
“We must reduce the number of homicides and shootings and take the illegal guns off our streets,” Mayor Walsh said. “But we must also take on the less visible – but no less significant – effects of violence: the trauma that too many Boston families experience.”
The VIAP collaborates with the Boston Public Health Commission to help shooting and stabbing victims from the moment they enter the emergency room, offering everything from legal and housing support to education and employment counseling. This program helps people move away from a life of violence to become productive and contributing neighbors in a safe community.
“All of us at Boston Medical Center are eager to support and collaborate with Mayor Walsh in his efforts to reduce violence in our City,” said Kate Walsh, President and CEO of Boston Medical Center. “Tackling urban violence is a public health issue that requires the involvement of organizations throughout the City and we are fortunate to have Mayor Walsh’s commitment and leadership in this effort.”
BMC’s Community Violence Response Team (CVRT) is an essential part of the VIAP. Ninety-five percent of VIAP clients exhibit mental health issues, and the Team has two full-time clinicians who see every VIAP client and use a non-threatening approach in their work. BMC recently secured a grant through the Department of Justice’s Victims of Crime Act to fund CVRT. Boston Medical Center is the only hospital in the country that has a clinical mental health component to the VIAP program.
In prepared remarks following the discussion, Mayor Walsh said: “Our entire city must rally around this issue – not simply to offer a hand after acts of violence but to work together to prevent them from happening in the first place. We need a continuum of care to address the underlying causes of violence, not just the symptoms. And we need to make sure there are more trauma experts out in the neighborhoods helping people right away.”