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In This Issue:
As many of you know, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Unfortunately, domestic violence continues to pose a serious public health threat to our patients and employees alike, as well as many others in our local and global communities. I ask that you join me and leaders throughout the hospital in taking this opportunity to consider our own roles in responding to domestic violence.
Domestic violence, defined as abuse in an intimate relationship, takes on many forms, including physical and sexual violence, threats and a host of harmful behaviors intended to exert power and control in a relationship. Domestic violence is not prone to any particular age, racial or ethnic group, religion, or social class. Although cases of such violence do not exclude men, the victims of domestic violence are predominantly women.
According to a Commonwealth Fund Survey, 39 percent of women in the United States experience physical or sexual abuse by an intimate partner at some point in their adult lives. Also, a recent study estimated that women make close to 700,000 visits to the health care system due to physical assault. Furthermore, according to a recently published report by the Centers for Disease Control, the health-related costs of rape, physical assault, stalking and homicide by intimate partners in the United States exceed $5.8 billion each year, nearly $4.1 billion of which is allocated to direct medical and mental health care services.
Fortunately, BWH is in a unique position to help victims of domestic violence. I am proud of the work resulting from BWH’s own domestic violence program, Passageway, which has responded to more than 1,900 individual requests for advocacy services. In the past year, advocates at Passageway have worked with 538 patients and employees, with more than 8,000 service contacts. Passageway continues to join the BWH Office for Women, Family and Community Programs, BWH’s Care Coordination staff and the Partners’ Employee Assistance Program to improve the safety and care of our patients and employees with regard to domestic abuse.
I equally applaud the efforts of BWH’s Domestic Violence Steering Committee, chaired by JudyAnn Bigby, MD and Martha Burke, LICSW. Already, this relatively new Committee has accomplished the following:
•A hospital-wide abuse training packet to be used by any department. Nursing can access this on T3 and other employees can access it by visiting http://is.partners.org/hr/forms/index.html; and•The identification of various safety and security enhancements to be implemented at BWH; and•Assistance in the production of BWH’s Women’s Health Guidelines on Domestic Violence, under the leadership of Sohelya Gharib, MD and Mary Dwyer Chapin, NP.We all have a role in mitigating this public health threat. Increasing collaboration is the best way we can strengthen our response to domestic violence. I urge you to be aware, screen for domestic violence and take advantage of Passageway’s services. You are welcome to share your concerns and suggestions with Tina Nappi (email@example.com), director of Passageway and a member of the Domestic Violence Steering Committee.
Gary L. Gottlieb, MD, MBABWH President
Sidebar: Insert Passageway logoOffice for Women, Family and Community Programs, Brigham and Women’s Hospital617-732-6660, pager 31808 confidential voicemail ext. 2-8753
Partners Employee Asssistance Program: 617-732-6017
Other valuable Domestic Violence resources include:SafeLink (24-hour, MA statewide hotline): 877-785-2020 or www.casamyrna.org
Jane Doe, Inc.: 617-248-0922 or www.janedoe.org
Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project 1-800-832-1901 or www.gmdvp.org
Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance (MOVA) 617-727-5200 or www.state.ma.us/mova