Jefferson County Health Department working to launch new program for gun violence victims

Published: Dec. 4, 2021 at 7:56 AM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Jefferson County Department of Health is partnering with UAB to try and break the cycle of gun violence.

Officials with the Jefferson County Health Department are stepping in with a new way to help try and end gun violence in the community after more than 650 people were treated in Jefferson county alone for gunshot wounds last year.

“A lot of these are folks who have been in a very difficult environment and they need some help to get their lives back on track,” County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson said. “People that have suffered gunshot wounds, that someone has tried to kill, they need a lot of assistance. They have been traumatized, not just physically, but emotionally.”

Wilson said the program will help make sure victims are safe to leave the hospital, help provide resources to mental health services and make sure that they don’t continue the cycle.

“It might be mental health services,” Wilson said. “It might be substance use treatment. It might be finishing education and getting job training or job placement. Things to help them get into a new environment and go on a new trajectory. So, that they are not back in the hospital with a similar incident, or they don’t retaliate and shooting somebody else.”

The health department is using 1.1 million dollars of their 2022 budget to fund the program, but they are asking the city of Birmingham for more than two million dollars of federal funds to help expand.

“There are so many gun violence incidents that it really needs to be expanded to have a significant impact,” Wilson said. “A lot of the homicides or gunshot wounds do occur in the city of Birmingham.”

Still working to partner with community organizations, Wilson said they are hoping for the program to be running by summer.

“Every life we help is very important,” Wilson said. “We hope we can scale it up to impact a lot of lives.”

The city council is set to vote on Tuesday, December 7th, on whether to award the American Rescue Plan dollars to the intervention program.

The city’s dollars would not be used until years two and three of the program.


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