Lt. Governor Brown Announces New Hospital-Based Domestic Violence Program at GBMC

Initiative is Maryland's Seventh Hospital-Based Domestic Violence Screening Program

BALTIMORE, Md. (November 16, 2012) – Today, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown was joined by Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger, health care representatives, domestic violence advocates, community members, and state and local officials to announce the launch of a new Hospital-Based Domestic Violence Program at Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) in Baltimore County.

GBMC currently provides the only Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) program to treat adolescent and adult victims (ages 13 and older) of sexual assault in Baltimore County, and has expanded services for victims with the implementation of their new Domestic Violence Program. GBMC is receiving over $27,000 in state funds to support both programs, including $16,796 for the new domestic violence program. Additionally, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield presented a check for $15,000 to support the program.

The GBMC program will be Maryland’s seventh 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.” 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 Anne Arundel Medical Center, Mercy Medical Center, Sinai Hospital and Northwest Hospital, as well as Prince George’s Hospital Center. Most recently, the Lt. Governor in January launched the sixth program at Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown.

“Governor O’Malley and I are committed to ending domestic violence in Maryland. Working together with partners like GBMC and CareFirst, we are making progress by expanding the number of hospital based domestic violence programs and building a coordinated response to domestic violence in every part of our state,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “I believe strong communities are built, not born, and each and every day the dedicated staff at GBMC is making a real difference in the lives of their fellow Marylanders. By funding the 7th hospital-based domestic violence program at GMBC, we will be able to better recognize and care for victims of domestic violence and prevent further incidences in Baltimore County and throughout the region."

"I have zero tolerance for domestic violence. As a social worker, I've seen first-hand how domestic violence hurts children and destroys families," said U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski. "This program will meet a compelling human need, protecting victims, helping families heal and rebuilding lives. I will continue to fight for families and defend them from continued violence and abuse."

“Domestic violence is a national scourge and Maryland is not immune with more than 18,500 reported cases of domestic violence a year.  Victims of domestic abuse need our support, and I am so pleased that GBMC will be providing much needed services to those who need to know that there is a way out and that they are deserving of love and self-respect,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin.

Founded in Towson in 1965, GBMC is a 281-bed not-for-profit medical center (acute and sub-acute care) that handles more than 26,700 inpatient cases and approximately 60,000 emergency room visits annually. The Domestic Violence Program will be a complement to the hospital’s SAFE program and will offer additional resources for patients who are identified as victims of domestic violence. Program officials anticipate serving an average of 30 patients per month by 2014 based on similar-sized hospital programs. The program’s goals include:

  • Providing immediate response to any victim – male or female – who experiences violence in an intimate relationship;
  • Connecting victims to local resources;
  • Providing specialized care in the hospital setting;
  • Providing support and referral services to patients, staff, and community members experiencing abuse from an intimate partner;
  • Providing staff training and education concerning the effect of intimate partner violence on an individual’s health

“Domestic violence results in significant emotional and physical harm as well as damage to a victim’s personal health, and also impacts the overall family well-being,” said Sally Hess, coordinator of the hospital’s Domestic Violence Program.  “We are committed to doing everything we can to help protect and care for those victims.”

“The success of GBMC's sexual assault SAFE program in assisting the victims of sexual assault has been invaluable,” said Scott Shellenberger, State's Attorney for Baltimore County. “I believe that the expansion of GBMC's role in assisting the victims of domestic violence will improve the changes of a successful prosecution. More importantly, however, the lives of victims of domestic violence will be improved.”

In response to the 2010 Executive Order, the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention and the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission made state funds available for Hospital-Based Domestic Violence Programs, while CareFirst BlueCross Blue Shield has committed private/non-profit funds to pilot domestic violence programs at GBMC, Meritus Medical Center and Prince George’s Hospital Center.

“CareFirst is proud to support such an important program for residents of Baltimore County,” said Maria Harris Tildon, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Community Affairs for CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. “Incidents of domestic violence have no place in our community, and we applaud the work Dr. John Chessare and his staff are doing to help those who have been harmed or fear this form of intimidation.”

“Reducing violent crimes committed against women and children is one of this administration’s top priorities, and hospital-based domestic violence programs are helping us accomplish this goal ,” said GOCCP Executive Director Tammy Brown.  “By utilizing domestic violence screening tools, and by training health care professionals who work in hospitals, we can provide necessary services to victims and break the cycle of abuse.  We are glad to have GBMC join the network of hospital-based domestic violence programs in Maryland.”

Combating 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 redouble 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 reforms to combat domestic violence.

Brown led successful efforts in 2009 to improve domestic violence laws by giving judges the authority to take guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. During the 2010 Legislative Session, Brown worked with members of the General Assembly, domestic violence advocates and stakeholders to pass legislation allowing a victim of domestic abuse to terminate a residential lease with a copy of a final protective order.  And the Lt. Governor is leading efforts to increase the availability of hospital-based domestic violence screening programs.

Since taking office, the O’Malley-Brown administration has worked to reduce violent crime in Maryland by 10 percent each year and reduce violent crimes committed against women and children by 25 percent by the end of 2012. Collaborating with state and local partners, they have reduced violent crime statewide to the lowest rates since 1975, and domestic violence deaths in Maryland have dropped by 11.5 percent since 2006.

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