Of the four Level I trauma centers in the city, Boston Medical Center (BMC) consistently receives the highest number of homicide victims for emergency services — 47 percent in 2009, 64 percent in 2010 and 56 percent in 2011.
In all, there were 191 victims of gunshot wounds and 264 victims of stabbings treated at the hospital in fiscal year 2011, according to BMC statistics.
Based on the need to help those affected by violence, BMC established the Community Violence Response Team (CVRT) in 2011 to provide individual and family counseling services to survivors of violence and family members who have been impacted by violence.
During the first six months, the CVRT, which includes a family mental health clinician and a child and family clinician, saw 162 patients and family members affected by attempted homicide and 44 family members affected by homicide.
Fifty-three of those patients or family members were children or adolescents.
The CVRT team offers free services, including crisis intervention, psycho-education, counseling and referrals to community partners, to violence survivors both while they are in the hospital and after they are discharged.
Funding for the CVRT is provided by a one-year grant from the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Victims of Crime Act. BMC was the only institution in Boston to receive the grant, which is now up for renewal.
“As a major urban trauma center, providing services to the families of victims of violence is an integral part of our role in caring for these patients and their families,” Peter Burke, MD, chief of trauma services at BMC stated in a release.
In the words of one the CVRT clinicians, “I feel that we are a unique program that focuses on the grief of trauma and can provide compassionate care when it is needed most.” The clinician continued, “We advocate for families and connect them with resources in their communities in an effort to empower them and keep them connected with activities that contribute with their healing process.”