Ohio is preparing to roll out a program that addresses the myriad interconnected complications that arise from nonfatal firearm injuries, reports The Trace. It will be the second state to unveil what’s known as a trauma recovery network, modeled after a seminal effort in California. Americans suffer more than 80,000 nonfatal firearm injuries a year. The trauma from shootings extends beyond the emergency room to the invisible damage to a victim’s emotional or social life, or employment prospects, or stable housing. Though the initiative comes from Ohio’s criminal justice system, implementation will fall to health care providers, social workers and mental health professionals.
Federal assistance meant to address those often unseen needs comes largely from a fund established by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which each year hands money over to states to distribute. Most it goes toward victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, with little left for gunshot victims. But five Ohio hospitals in the network’s initial $2.6 million phase are partnering with local service providers to offer trauma screening and crisis intervention that begins when victims of violent crime arrive in the emergency room. As patients heal and return to their community, social workers and trauma specialists will link them with a variety of services, including short-term safe housing, legal advocacy, referrals to substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, and essentials like food and clothing.