When her husband went to get the car at the end of her hospital stay, a patient finally had a moment alone with her nurse. It was then that she revealed that her husband was abusive. Because of the small window of time the nurse had to act, she gave the patient contact information for advocacy services provided onsite at Swedish Covenant Hospital. The patient was able to schedule a follow-up appointment, where she was given a HopeLine phone (a pre-programmed phone to contact emergency services and support agencies) and was connected to counseling services.
Swedish Covenant Hospital’s partner agencies, Apna Ghar and Between Friends, provide onsite patient advocacy services for survivors of domestic violence. The program is being made possible with funding from the Michael Reese Health Trust. The program breaks down barriers that many survivors face through the referral process, including lack of follow up between referral and if/when the patient contacts a DV agency, lack of continuity between the provider and the referral agency, and the apprehension in having to disclose again.
“We are grateful for the support of the Michael Reese Health Trust, which has allowed us to expand our Violence Prevention Program with a comprehensive approach to responding to the needs of survivors of Domestic Violence,” said Kate Lawler, director of the Violence Prevention Program.
Staff from Apna Ghar and Between Friends are housed in Swedish Covenant Hospital’s Women’s Health Center twice per week to offer safety planning, referrals, and other services to survivors. In addition to office visits, the staff visits patients in the Emergency Department, on inpatient units, and provide universal education on the mother-baby unit. Since the program began, 22 survivors have received services through the program. In addition, partner agencies provide training for hospital staff to identify and respond to survivors of domestic violence.