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HMSW Addresses Issue of Family Violence
10/01/2004

FORT WORTH, Texas – Domestic violence tears at the social and economic fabric of the United States, costing nearly $10 billion each year in medical expenses, police and court costs, shelters and foster care, sick leave absenteeism and non-productivity. With a population of 1.5 million citizens, Tarrant County has the second highest rate of reported family violence incidents in Texas, according to the Crime Prevention Resource Center. Annually, Tarrant County averages in excess of 12,000 reported domestic violence offenses, including seven domestic violence homicides.

With these statistics in mind, Harris Methodist Southwest Hospital is working to address the issue of domestic violence through a Family Violence Prevention Initiative that focuses on prevention activities, identification of victims of abuse and support for local organizations.

“Domestic violence is a major health issue that impacts not only the victim, but also the victim's family,” said Todd Duckett, M.H.A., M.Div., director of Pastoral Care at Harris Methodist Southwest Hospital. “As a health care provider, we want to help prevent and treat not only physical injuries, but psychological and emotional injuries as well.”

Health care providers are often the first professionals to see signs and symptoms of domestic violence and are often in a position to help victims and their children. The Journal of the American Medical Association cites a third of women seeking treatment in emergency rooms are abuse victims, but only 5 percent of them were diagnosed as such. To combat this problem, all employees at Harris Methodist Southwest Hospital have completed domestic violence prevention training.

“All of our employees have learned how to identify domestic violence victims who are patients or co-workers, and what resources are available for them,” said Duckett.

As a community partner, Harris Methodist Southwest Hospital supports the Women's Haven of Tarrant County throughout the year. Women's Haven of Tarrant County is an organization dedicated to reducing domestic violence, assisting victims to overcome abuse and preventing future abuse through intervention and education.

Harris Methodist Southwest Hospital donated 20,075 food items, collected during their annual employee food drive, to the Women's Haven in August, and employees donated toiletries to the organization last May.

Duckett, who makes presentations regarding domestic violence prevention to area churches, said that Harris Methodist Southwest Hospital in partnership with other community organizations can make a difference.

“We are dedicated to drastically reducing the levels of domestic violence in our community,” he said.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness about the prevalence and cost of domestic violence, the need for prevention and the availability of services for victims of abuse.

The Family Violence Prevention Initiative at Harris Methodist Southwest Hospital is part of a larger initiative implemented by Texas Health Resources, the parent company of the hospital. The goal of Texas Health Resources' Family Violence Prevention Initiative is to strengthen clinical protocols, practices, assessment tools and training to improve the identification and referral of patients with suspicious or confirmed symptoms of abuse.

About Harris Methodist Southwest Hospital
Harris Methodist Southwest Hospital is affiliated with Texas Health Resources and has served the residents of southwest Tarrant County since 1987. A full-service hospital built with its patients in mind, Harris Methodist Southwest offers comprehensive health care services. The personal approach to health care includes 24-hour emergency services, women's services, inpatient and outpatient services, rehabilitation services, diagnostic services and a variety of education classes.

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