SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – As a vital public health response to violence in local communities, Baystate Medical Center and Roca Springfield will launch the first hospital-based violence intervention program in the region called Better Tomorrow.

Using a $1 million U.S. Department of Justice grant from the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program, Roca Springfield and the Department of Justice will collaborate to assist victims of violence in hospital settings, connect them with community services, and prevent further victimization.

“Our mission is to decrease violence related to firearms and other forms of intentional injury in our community by increasing access to violence prevention initiatives,” said Dr. Kristina Kramer, a Trauma and Acute Care Surgeon at Baystate Medical Center who is serving as Medical Director of Better Tomorrow.  “Our collaboration with Roca will enable us to work toward a common goal of reducing preventable injuries and death resulting from firearm violence.”

Through its internationally recognized violence intervention program, Baystate is partnering with Roca Springfield, which has been supporting young men and women in Greater Springfield for the last 11 years.

“Roca transforms communities plagued by violence in two ways. First, we work long term with young people to teach life-saving emotional skills to overcome their hurt and anger and see a future where they’re not in a casket or serving a life sentence by age 20. And second, we work with institutions to change how they think about helping young people who are traumatized. It takes relentlessness: seeing hope when all hope seems lost, and never giving up,” said Chris Judd, Vice President of Roca Springfield and Holyoke.

According to a Baystate Health news release sent to 22News, a hospital-based violence intervention program (HVIP) connects patients with community and hospital-based resources in order to address underlying risk factors for violence in order to help them prevent repeat violent injuries.

These programs are to reduce repeated victimization and criminal justice involvement while also decreasing healthcare and other costs associated with violence. 

By addressing disparities in health care access, transportation, case management, and other social determinants of health, they improve the quality of life for patients.

Among the many prevention efforts trauma centers participate in, Dr. Kramer noted that they are crucial to reducing injury impacts. Specific injuries and risk factors in patients, families, and the community are factored in.

“Baystate is the only Level 1 trauma center in western Massachusetts with an obligation to aid injury prevention efforts in our community. Better Tomorrow is an example of a program that will serve people who are at increased/higher risk for intentional injury and interpersonal violence,” she said.