Transforming a park overrun with drug dealers and gangs into a safe, open space for recreation and activities for all ages, including youth and older adults. Creating a safer and cleaner sidewalk route for schoolchildren. Identifying youth who have been violently injured, either physically or emotionally, and helping them with coping strategies, goal-setting and other healthy, empowering interventions.

Hospitals and health systems are leading and actively participating in these kinds of initiatives to address violence, crime and safety and make our communities healthier – especially for youth.

The AHA recently released “Youth Violence Prevention: Working Together to Keep Communities Safe,” a compendium of inspiring stories about hospitals and health systems collaborating to curb and prevent violence in their communities. The compendium highlights initiatives in seven communities across the U.S. that are addressing safety challenges and making a significant positive impact.

A key to success in all of these stories is building partnerships so community organizations, businesses and public agencies are collaborating to address the issues – and not working in silos. With effective collaboration, partner organizations develop common goals, create solutions together and align interventions that are already working.

At Carilion, our team of forensic nurse examiners, who provide specialized care for victims of violence, have long partnered with community programs to ensure that patients who have suffered abuse, sexual assault, and other types of violence have access to the resources they need after they leave the hospital.

Violence is a public health issue that many communities must address. The AHA’s Hospitals Against Violence initiative is focused on helping hospitals and communities understand and combat different forms of violence, including physical, psychological and group-inflicted violence.

Whatever safety issues your community is facing, you are not alone. You can read more in the Youth Violence Prevention compendium about what other communities are doing. I invite you to share your health care organization’s work to prevent violence by visiting our webpage or emailing hospitalsagainstviolence@aha.org.

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