A Pennsylvania program that tries to prevent gunshot victims ages 15 to 24 from being struck by violence again is shutting because of a state government money shortage, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Pennsylvania Injury Reporting and Intervention System (PIRIS) will no longer accept new referrals as of yesterday. Its three case managers will soon notify their 31 clients that the program is closing June 30. The program, with a $1.3 million budget, is among 100 being zeroed out to close the state’s budget gap. Scott Charles, trauma outreach coordinator at Temple University Hospital, says gunshot trauma is “one of the most stressful, paranoid-inducing situations you could be in, that someone is trying to kill me. And the one consistent resource we had at our disposal, we’ve now closed.”
The state launched PIRIS in 2006 to try to slow the revolving door of gunshot patients’ barreling through emergency rooms. The goal was to offer them a lifeline when they were most apt to listen – while lying in a hospital bed. “For the patient, it’s about what happens after you get that discharge,” says case-management supervisor Doris Spears. “That’s really their beginning.” If the victim’s behavior contributed to his being shot, “then we need to talk about lifestyle changes,” she said. The program guides participants through a maze of social services: medical appointments, medical assistance, public assistance, post-traumatic stress treatment, witness protection, criminal court, family court, GED programs, and job training.