Violence intervention and recovery services at the University of Chicago Medicine are expanding and expected to grow significantly in 2019. The launch of UChicago Medicine’s Level 1 Adult Trauma Center in May 2018 created an influx of patients for Healing Hurt People-Chicago, a violence intervention partnership between the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital, John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County and the Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Healing Hurt People has been serving patients younger than 16 years old at Comer Children’s Pediatric Level 1 Trauma Center since 2013. UChicago Medicine’s adult trauma center serves patients age 16 and older. Since the adult trauma center opened in May, the program has served about 28 Comer Children’s patients and 55 patients ages 16 to 18 from the adult trauma center.
“Since the opening of the adult trauma center, we’ve essentially tripled the number of patients we see following violent injuries, creating the need to serve many more individuals,” says Bradley Stolbach, PhD, pediatric trauma psychologist and co-director of Healing Hurt People-Chicago.
According to Stolbach, the team expects to hire two new trauma intervention specialists and other staff in the coming year. “We anticipate that getting these positions filled will greatly help with ongoing case management and follow-up work,” he says.
In addition to working with Healing Hurt People, Stolbach is a UChicago Medicine Urban Health Initiative fellow and helps run Project FIRE (Fearless Initiative for Recovery and Empowerment) and REACT (Recovery and Empowerment after Community Trauma). These programs gained increased funding in 2018. Project FIRE is an artist development employment program that offers healing for young people who have experienced violence, through glassblowing, mentoring and trauma psychoeducation. UChicago Medicine’s REACT Program provides screening and mental health care for hundreds of children and families affected by violence in many of Chicago’s South and West Side neighborhoods.
“With increased funding for pediatric trauma services, we are helping many more children move past their injuries, return to school and continue on toward full, productive lives,” says Mark Slidell, MD, MPH, director, pediatric trauma. “It means at-risk children won’t fall through the cracks and their recovery begins immediately after the traumatic event.”
Stolbach believes that Project FIRE will soon see its first female-identifying group. Prior to the expansion of Healing Hurt People, there have not been enough potential participants who identify as female to form a cohort.
He has also been working closely with developers at the Yale University Child Study Center to create an adaptation of CFTSI (Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention) tailored to the needs of families affected by community violence. According to Stolbach, all of UChicago Medicine’s new trauma intervention specialists will be trained on this model to join the eight clinicians currently on the Chicago CFTSI team. CFTSI is a brief intervention intended to prevent the development or decrease the severity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children who have experienced or witnessed trauma, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, community violence, rape, assault or motor vehicle accidents.