An emergency room signA car filled with teenagers screeches to a stop outside an emergency department in Philadelphia. In the back seat, a scared young man is slouched and bleeding from a gunshot wound.

This was one of many arrivals of injured youth during Kyle Fischer’s residency at Drexel University College of Medicine. What especially disturbed Fischer, MD, MPH, was that after getting patched up and released, sometimes after a brief hospital stay, the same youth was many times back in the emergency department in weeks or months with another injury from violent trauma.

The frequency motivated him to explore hospital-based violence prevention programs, in which patients are given support and resources to escape the cycle of violence.

“Violence is a preventative health issue that we can treat with the traditional health system and public health approaches,” Fischer, now policy director for the Health Alliance for Violence Intervention, told The Nation’s Health.

Hospital-based violence intervention programs work to interrupt the cycle of violence among high-risk youth. They partner with community organizations with experience working with adolescents in disadvantaged neighborhoods where shootings and other violent acts routinely take place. The programs are an effective way to prevent gun violence, research shows. In fact, they were cited as one of the policies that work by APHA and the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health during a September forum on gun violence prevention.

Continue reading this story from the February/March 2020 issue of The Nation's Health.

Photo courtesy Adam Calaitzis, iStockphoto