Health Center News

Postcard from Rhode Island — A Community Approach to Target Victims of Domestic Violence

Every so often we hear about health centers collaborating with other organizations to solve a problem.  In a previous blog post we wrote about efforts by health centers and Boston to respond to victims of trauma.   Now, in Rhode Island, we learned about a similar collaboration, only this time it is to reach out to victims of domestic violence.  Thanks to a grant from FUTURES Without Violence, an organization dedicated to empowering organizations and people to end violence against women and children around the globe,  Thundermist Health Center and Sojourner House, a comprehensive domestic violence agency, have joined forces.  These organizations may sound like unlikely allies, until one considers that domestic violence is not just a private family matter, but also a public health issue.   According to the Centers for Disease Control,  on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.

Thundermist will focus on offering patients health education and harm reduction strategies.  Sojourner House will help with safety planning and support services. FUTURES Without Violence will add in technical assistance, training, and resources.   For Thundermist, this is a health issue that demands an immediate community approach.

“In 2013, there were 407 arrests due to domestic violence in Woonsocket.  This is the highest rate in the state when accounting for population size, and we believe a vast underestimate of the true rate,”said Chuck Jones, Thundermist’s president and CEO.  “We see a great opportunity to integrate intimate partner violence (IPV) screening into our practice.  We recognize that Woonsocket is deeply impacted by IPV, and that strengthening our existing partnership with Sojourner House will have a positive impact on staff, our patients, and our community.”

Help for domestic violence victims is just one of the many social services Community Health Centers can offer patients. The services at Thundermist alone range from primary medical care and dental care to adherence counseling for HIV-positive patients and even a Trans* Health Access Team which works to improve access to culturally and clinically competent healthcare for the trans community.