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Healing Hurt People

Recognizing that victims of violence too often have symptoms of trauma that go untreated, Healing Hurt People (HHP) offers a hospital-based intervention to address the psychological and physical wounds of trauma. We understand that violence takes a 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.

HHP is a program for people ages 8-30 who have been shot, stabbed, or assaulted and are seen in a hospital for treatment. The ultimate goals of the program are to help victims heal from their physical and emotion wounds in order to break the cycle of violence, by connecting them to needed behavioral health, physical health and life skills resources.

We also know that young people in cities face many types of stress beyond interpersonal violence. Our goal is to give young people the tools to manage these life stresses while also advocating for positive change.

HHP is supported by the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services and Drexel University.

The Need

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 hostile environments in which they were hurt, without 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 cut off from their future by the effects of trauma.

The Program

Recognizing the need to intervene during this crucial time in victims’ lives, 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 clients at Drexel-Hahnemann and has since expanded to serve victims in four additional emergency departments across the city: Einstein Medical Center, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, and Temple Hospital.

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. In addition to replicating HHP across Philadelphia, 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 advances 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.