Hackensack Meridian Health Receives $2 M Federal Grant to Support Hospital-based Anti-Violence Programs

January 29, 2020

Aakash Shah, M.D., an expert in emergency care and behavioral health care at Jersey Shore University Medical Center; Gov. Phil Murphy; Nasim Ahmed, M.D., Chief, Division of Trauma at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

Funding will help support communities in Monmouth County with counseling, addiction treatment and other services

Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive health network, received a $2 million federal grant to support an in-hospital violence intervention program at Jersey Shore University Medical Center which will support Monmouth County communities including Asbury Park, Neptune Township and Long Branch City.

The program, part of a $20 million federal grant Gov. Murphy announced on Wednesday, is the largest such investment in the U.S. and aims to support communities with a comprehensive, hospital-based approach to stem violence.

“This grant will help Hackensack Meridian Health continue to be part of the solution when it comes to prevention and improving the lives in the communities we are privileged to serve,” said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “Many factors contribute to violence and we must all work together – in government, law enforcement and health care – to take a new approach and address this as the public health problem that it is.”

Homicide is the second leading cause of death for people age 15 to 24, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every day, 100 Americans on average are killed by guns and 100,000 Americans are shot and injured each year. Gun deaths across the nation increased 16 percent from 2014 to 2017. Additionally, 100,000 Americans are wounded by guns each year.

The grant will allow hospitals to ensure that counselors connect with victims before they leave the hospital and return to the communities where they were shot or assaulted. Each program will be tied to local community groups. An array of services will be offered, including counseling, substance abuse treatment, educational opportunities and more.

“The grants we’re announcing today will allow us to turn around lives at a single point of contact: the hospitals, where not just the victims of gun violence go, but where those on the other side of the trigger, often end up,” Gov. Murphy said at a press conference in Jersey City. In December, a Jersey City police officer was among six people shot and killed in an attack at a Kosher Supermarket.

Intervention plans have shown to dramatically reduce the rate at which victims of gun violence are injured again and return to the hospital for treatment, said New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, a gun-violence victim who fights for tougher firearm laws, was also at the event in support of the grants. “Stopping gun violence takes courage — the courage to do what’s right,” Giffords said.

“We are very excited to receive this important grant that will further enhance our support of these patients, not only by providing immediate services within the hopital but also by taking a multidisciplinary approach to rehabilitate these victims after getting discharged,” said Dr. Nasim Ahmed, Chief of division of Trauma at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

“I look forward to helping establish a continuum of care for victims of violence,” said Aakash Shah, M.D., an expert in emergency medicine and behavioral health at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. “Thanks to this grant, we will be able to provide trauma-informed wraparound care for victims from the moment they arrive in our emergency department to well after they have regained their footing in the community.”