BALTIMORE, Md. – Today, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski were joined by U.S. Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown, health care representatives, domestic violence advocates, and state and local officials to announce funding for a Hospital-Based Domestic Violence Program at University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). The Bridge Project, which will serve incoming patients at both the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center and the UMMC Emergency Department, will be funded in part by a $50,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention (GOCCP) made possible by federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding. Additionally, UMMC has received a $20,000 grant from Verizon to support the program, which was also formally announced at today’s event.
“Victims of domestic violence need immediate support using all tools available to remove them from a dangerous situation, put them on a healing path and assist them in rebuilding their lives free from fear and violence,” said Senator Cardin. “I’m proud we have strong federal-state partnerships in place to support community based programs like this.”
“If you are beaten and abused, you should have somewhere to turn for help and a path to recovery,” said Senator Mikulski, who has championed passage of the Violence Against Women Act and, as Chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee, fights year after year to fund the Office on Victims of Crime that awarded a $50,000 grant for the Bridge Project. “No woman in this country should live in fear that her husband or boyfriend will hurt or kill her or her kids. I will keep fighting for funds in the federal checkbook to combat domestic abuse, dating violence and sexual assault. By providing robust support for federal grant programs that support local efforts like the Bridge Project, we will help protect women and their families from continued abuse.”
“When it comes to Marylanders who are seriously sick or injured, there is no better place to be than Shock Trauma,” Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger said. “Now, with the help of this federal grant, the talented doctors and nurses within the University of Maryland Medical Center will be better-equipped to identify patients who are victims of domestic violence and help place them in shelters, find legal aid and receive counseling. I am proud of this collaborative effort from both federal and state government as well as the private sector.”
“With the opening of The Bridge Project at the University of Maryland Medical Center, our state’s tenth hospital-based domestic violence screening program, we’re taking another important step towards ending domestic violence in Baltimore and in neighborhoods throughout Maryland,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “Although we’ve driven down violent crime to the lowest levels in three decades, domestic violence continues to impact thousands of families throughout our state, and we will not rest until every Marylander is safe in their home and in their community.”
The Bridge Project was founded this year under UMMC’s broader, nationally recognized Violence Intervention Program with the mission of breaking the cycle of intimate partner and sexual violence in Baltimore City and its contiguous counties. The Bridge Project provides hospital-based crisis counseling, safety planning, referrals, and follow-up services to domestic violence victims identified at The R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center and the Adult Emergency Department at UMMC. The program assists victims with shelter placement, locating legal assistance and identifying follow-up counseling and other services. One of the primary objectives of the program is to establish round the clock coverage from on-call domestic violence intervention specialists. The grant funding from the State will enable the hospital to provide these services after hours and on weekends and holidays.
“We are grateful to the State of Maryland and Verizon for their support, which enhances our ability to help victims of domestic violence who come through our doors – not only by attending to their medical needs but also by making counseling, referrals and other assistance available to them around the clock, every day of the year,” said Jeffrey A. Rivest, president and chief executive officer of the University of Maryland Medical Center. “At UMMC, we are not only committed to treatment and healing, but also to prevention. Initiatives such as the Bridge Project offer people immediate assistance and meaningful alternatives that are crucial to helping break the cycle of violence.”
The Verizon grant of $20,000, which began in January 2014, is being used for emergency housing, client needs, transportation, and some staff training. Both grants complement each other, allowing UMMC to run a comprehensive program such as the Bridge Project.
“As a major employer and corporate citizen in Maryland, Verizon cares deeply about the communities we serve,” said Tabb Bishop, Verizon’s vice president of state government affairs. “By supporting UMMC’s hospital-based domestic violence prevention program, we’re continuing to help raise awareness of the issue and improve the safety of families in our communities.”
The UMMC program will be Maryland’s tenth hospital-based domestic violence program designed to meet the goals of the Governor’s 2010 Executive Order, “The Maryland Domestic Violence Health Care Screening and Response Initiative.” In four years, the Administration has doubled the number of hospital-based domestic violence programs in the state, an effort led by Lt. Governor Brown. As outlined by the Executive Order, the programs aim to identify victims at an early stage in the cycle of domestic violence and extend comprehensive services to prevent future physical and emotional injury. Similar programs are currently in place in the Baltimore region at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Howard County General Hospital in Columbia, Anne Arundel Medical Center, Mercy Medical Center, Sinai Hospital and Northwest Hospital, as well as Prince George’s Hospital Center and Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown. In March, the Lt. Governor announced the ninth program at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown.
Reducing domestic violence is a personal cause for Lt. Governor Brown. In August 2008, his cousin Cathy was senselessly murdered by her estranged boyfriend. The grief of her loss spurred Lt. Governor Brown to increase his efforts to address domestic violence in our state. Building on his experience as a legislator and the perspective provided by this tragedy, Lt. Governor Brown has championed several reforms to combat domestic violence.
Most recently, during this year’s legislative session, Brown led efforts to pass the Administration’s three-bill domestic violence package, which includes legislation to reduce the burden of proof required to obtain a peace or protective order, add second degree assault to the list of crimes for which domestic violence victims can obtain a final permanent protective order, and give judges the authority to impose enhanced penalties for acts of violence committed in the presence of a minor in the home.