As one of the oldest hospital systems in Virginia and the only level 1 comprehensive trauma center in the commonwealth, our goal is to lead and support our communities towards healthier lives and work with those most vulnerable and who have suffered health disparities. Our healthcare system has hospitals in locations that serve both urban and rural communities that are experiencing health, income and racial disparities. Our mission in the Injury and Violence Prevention Program (IVPP) is to reduce and prevent injuries through ongoing education, research, and community outreach throughout the central Virginia region, the eastern Virginia region and parts of the Southwest Virginia region where our hospital systems have a presence and have established close connections to local community partners. Project Empower (Empower) is a multi-disciplinary initiative within IVPP dedicated to enhancing prevention and intervention services to individuals and their families who have or are experiencing intimate partner violence, domestic violence, sexual violence or trafficking. We provide direct services to our patients, our students at the University, and our team members across the hospital system, as well as collaborating with our community partners in working with their consumers. We also provide training on screening and identification to our healthcare providers, collaborate closely with community partners such as local domestic violence centers, mental health programs, and departments of health in all our localities.
The Purpose of our Proposal is to address the significant risks to safety that pregnant and post-partum survivors of intimate partner violence experience and their increased risk of suicide and homicide to improve outcomes and reduce deaths through the creation of a model program to support the health of pregnant and post-partum women. Our overall program will address the barriers that pregnant survivors and postpartum women face when attempting to access appropriate medical care, forensic evidence collection, mental health services and community support. VCU plans to implement this program under Project Empower , a hospital-community based violence prevention intervention program dedicated to serving victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, and stalking and pairing with the IVPP Counseling program and IVPP Research/Evaluation; in concert with our local and regional maternal health and mortality stakeholders working to prevent violence against women. Both Empower and the Counseling programs are housed within the Injury and Violence Prevention Program (VCU-IVPP), a comprehensive program focused responding to intentional and unintentional injuries and has developed extensive collaborations with our communities and local centers over the last ten years.