Target: Doctor Leana S. Wen, Health Commissioner of Baltimore City, Maryland
Goal: Promote partnership between Baltimore hospitals and the Safe Streets program.
Baltimore is one of the nation’s most violent cities, and the city’s hospitals deal with hundreds of violent injuries every year. Many of these injuries in Baltimore are due to violent neighborhoods where gang wars are common, and hospital staff often see repeat patients who can’t escape the cycle of violence on the streets. In an effort to decrease violent injuries and deaths in Baltimore, it is essential that new intervention techniques be employed within Baltimore hospitals.
Safe Streets is a local program in Baltimore that employs individuals who have lived in dangerous neighborhoods as ambassadors who help others escape from dangerous, violent lives on the streets. It has been proposed that Baltimore hospitals employ Safe Streets workers as “violence interrupters” who will be called whenever someone is admitted after being shot, stabbed, or beaten.
The hope is that a patient will be more likely to speak to someone who understands the reality of the world in which they live–a world that is often rife with gangs, poverty, and drug abuse. After speaking with patients, the goal of Safe Streets workers would be to use their knowledge of the local neighborhoods to stop further violence between individuals.
Other cities such as Chicago have tried employing this type of violence prevention program in hospitals, and evidence is growing that shows such programs may help decrease neighborhood violence. With violence being the leading cause of injury, disability and premature death in Baltimore, it is evident that this is a public health problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Please show your support for the health and safety of the people of Baltimore by encouraging partnerships between hospitals and the Safe Streets program.
Dear Dr. Wen,
I am writing to request that you please support partnerships between Baltimore hospitals and the local Safe Streets program. Violence is a huge problem in Baltimore, and many hospitals see the same individuals returning with injuries because they are unable to escape the cycle of violence in the dangerous neighborhoods in which they live. Hospitals are a critical point of contact in which individuals struggling to survive in dangerous areas of the city can hopefully be helped and saved by a program such as Safe Streets.
The Safe Streets program is doing important work within Baltimore, attempting to reach out to those living in dangerous neighborhoods defined by gangs, poverty, and drugs. The goal of bringing Safe Streets into hospitals is to offer patients someone they can feel safe talking to–someone who knows and understands the reality of their lives outside the hospital. After speaking to patients, these “violence interrupters” can then use their knowledge of the local neighborhoods to use peaceful communication techniques to prevent further violence between individuals.
Similar intervention programs have been established in other U.S. cities such as Chicago, and early studies have shown that such programs are helping to decrease neighborhood violence. With Baltimore being one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S., it is high time that new methods of violence intervention be employed. Please try to stem the tide of violence in Baltimore by encouraging all hospitals to partner with the Safe Streets program.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Steelplug