Jefferson County Health Department working to launch Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program

Published: Jul. 10, 2021 at 10:58 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 11, 2021 at 6:35 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Birmingham city and police officials are working to combat gun crime across the city. So far this year, BPD has recovered 1,468 firearms from the streets. Now, public health officials are stepping in with a new way to help end the violence.

The Jefferson County Department of Health is partnering with UAB to try and break the cycle of violence through a Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program.

“Trying to tackle the issue of violence is very very challenging,” Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson said. “It’s a program where folks who have been shot and taken to the hospital, can have an intervention where they get some help from a person that comes along side them and makes sure they have their needs met and that they get help with the trauma they have experienced.”

Wilson said one goal of the program is to help curb future gun crime.

“Some support to help them get their life back on track and avoid further homicides or revenge killings,” he said. “These are programs that have been started in other parts of the country that seem to show some promise.”

Wilson said the gun crime in Jefferson County is a public health emergency.

“For young African American men ages 20 to 40, unfortunately the number one cause of preventable death is homicide,” Wilson said. “That matters to us.”

Wilson said the department has already hired a consultant to help get the program started.

“We may just be a drop in the bucket, but we felt like we should at least try to do something about it.”

Dr. Wilson said they have put money in the budget for the fiscal year that begins in October. It just has to be approved by the board next month.

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