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Healing Hurt People

Healing Hurt People (HHP) is a hospital and community-linked violence intervention program that provides an integrated care model of trauma focused healing services (evidence-based therapy, supportive case management, and peer services) to survivors of violent injury (stabbings, shootings, and assaults) or witnesses to such violence between the ages of 8 and 35.

Recognizing that survivors of violence too often have been impacted by their experience in ways that go unnoticed, HHP addresses the psychological and physical wounds of trauma. HHP's mission is to promote healing, reduce re-injury, and stem retaliation among youth who are survivors of violence, through trauma-informed practices.

We understand that violence takes a physical and emotional toll on people, and we provide support for people as they recover. We help young people and their families heal from trauma, stay safe, and plan the futures they want for themselves. We also connect people to physical health and other community resources as needed.

We are aware of the multiple barriers and stressors that children, adolescents, and young adults face in our city, which go beyond exposure to interpersonal violence. Despite tremendous resiliency and determination, the impact of ongoing racism, discrimination, and poverty can take a significant toll on our physical and mental health.

Our goal is to enhance our participants’ tools to manage these stressors, while also advocating for positive change and supporting them towards self-sufficiency and community integration.

HHP is supported by Community Behavioral Health (CBH), the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS), the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health.

The Need for Trauma-Informed Practices

Each year, 1.5 million people are treated in an emergency department for a violent injury and survive their wounds. These victims find themselves at a potentially life-changing moment: while being treated, some weigh the question of how the experience may change their lives. Others feel angry and may think about retaliating.

Most are discharged to the challenging and chaotic environments in which they were hurt, without additional supports to address the issues that led to their injuries. National statistics demonstrate the devastating long-term effects of this approach: within five years of their release from the hospital, 45 percent of severely wounded victims will be reinjured; nearly 20 percent will be dead.

Our own research shows that up to 75% of these young people will develop PTSD, almost 50% show signs of depression and many more find themselves their futures negatively impacted by the effects of trauma.

History of the Program

Recognizing the need to intervene during this crucial time in victims’ lives, the HHP model was developed at Drexel University by Ted Corbin, MD, MPP, an emergency physician; John Rich, MD, MPH, a primary care physician and public health expert; Linda Rich, MA, a psychologist with extensive experience in health policy and program planning, and Sandra Bloom, MD, a psychiatrist who developed the Sanctuary Model.

In 2008 HHP began serving participants at the now defunct Hahnemann University Hospital. Since 2009, we have also provided services at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, where our children’s team is housed. In addition, we now serve victims referred by hospital emergency departments, medical facilities, and community organizations across Philadelphia.

National Reach, Local Impact

 HHP has gained significant national attention and is a leader in the movement to end violence using a public health approach. The HHP model has been successfully replicated in hospitals in Portland, OR, and Chicago, IL.

From 2011-2014, HHP served as the headquarters for the national Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs. In addition, HHP has worked to advance system-level solutions to prevent violence in Philadelphia — in part through an innovative Citywide Injury Review Panel that engages leaders from law enforcement, medicine, psychiatry, behavioral health, child protection, legal services, and education to glean policy lessons from the experiences of injured youth.