January/February 2008

Catholic Health Initiatives Focuses on Violence Prevention


Catholic Health Initiatives’ central mission of building healthy communities includes a special commitment to those who are most vulnerable, including victims of violence. That mission is reaffirmed by Catholic Health Initiatives’ launch of a national violence prevention campaign, which will include millions of dollars in grants to help eliminate violence and promote healthy communities. “This violence prevention effort is supported by our Board of Stewardship Trustees and the Members of our Participating Congregations,” said Kevin Lofton, president and chief executive officer of Catholic Health Initiatives. “Since Catholic Health Initiatives formalized its advocacy priorities in 2000, nonviolence has been one of the highest priorities,” said Colleen Scanlon, RN, JD, senior vice president of advocacy for Catholic Health Initiatives. “As a system, Catholic Health Initiatives engages in public policy efforts, shareholder activism and coalitions, and also shares leading practices to advance the cause of nonviolence. Locally, many of our market-based organizations have developed and implemented community-based initiatives to address violence.” Catholic Health Initiatives is now heightening its focus on nonviolence by launching a comprehensive, systemwide violence prevention campaign. “Violence has become pervasive in the culture of our nation — each day in our emergency departments, our clinicians treat the results of violence,” said Lofton. “We recognize that there will always be a need to treat and alleviate the consequences of violence. But, it is crucial that we do more to prevent violence in our society. We will advance Catholic Health Initiatives’ commitment to the prevention of violence by working in a multi-dimensional manner toward the elimination of violence and all of its harmful effects.” The violence prevention campaign is being jointly led by Catholic Health Initiatives’ National Advocacy, Mission and Sponsorship Groups. Advocacy, Investments and Grants “Violence” is a broad term that encompasses domestic violence, gun violence, child and elder abuse, school violence and other violent behavior that affects the well being of a community. With such a range of issues to address, Catholic Health Initiatives will promote violence prevention in multiple ways, including: 1. Public Policy Advocacy. Catholic Health Initiatives will continue to seek out legislative and regulatory opportunities that address violence prevention at the local, state and national level. 2. Socially Responsible Investing. Through portfolio screening and shareholder resolutions, Catholic Health Initiatives will identify opportunities that can influence corporations to promote violence prevention. Recently, Catholic Health Initiatives and other faith-based investors addressed the violence that is prevalent in video games marketed to young people. 3. Mission and Ministry Fund Grants. The 2008–2009 grant cycle of the Mission and Ministry Fund will include new, additional grants for programs that promote violence prevention. Catholic Health Initiatives will develop education and tools to assist market-based organizations in applying for these grants. Local Initiatives In addition to these system-level activities, many community-based efforts are underway. A recent survey shows that Catholic Health Initiatives’ market-based organizations offer a wide range of local nonviolence initiatives. Examples include:
  • LakeWood Health Center, Baudette, Minn., supports the local school district’s Star Teams. The Star Teams program provides selected sixth and seventh graders with leadership education in conflict resolution, the influence of the media; violence prevention and teaching cooperative games. Back in their schools, the students work to reduce violence in their surroundings and provide community education to adults.
  • Flaget Memorial Hospital, Bardstown, Ky., is a member of the Nelson County Healthy Community Initiative’s Mental Health Action Team. The team partners with area police departments and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill to bring crisis intervention training to the region. The training prepares police officers to deal with people who are mentally ill in nonviolent ways that protect all the individuals involved.
  • Mercy Regional Medical Center, Durango, Colo., works with local agencies that support survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in numerous ways. Social workers from Mercy serve on the LaPlata County Violence Prevention Coalition and the Executive Board of Sexual Assault Service Organization. Mercy’s chief medical officer conducts a two-hour medical ethics presentation at the local high school, which includes the use of “imagination narratives” to help students learn to respond to injustice in a nonviolent manner.
“We appreciate the excellent work done by our market-based organizations to promote violence prevention,” said Scanlon. “We expect the new Mission and Ministry Fund grant program to help market-based organizations be even more creative and effective in violence prevention work.” Scanlon also expects to add elements to Catholic Health Initiatives’ violence prevention campaign that will make it even more comprehensive. “We’re exploring and identifying additional opportunities and partners to help in the advancement of this commitment,” she said. “Over time, we hope and believe that our efforts will help reduce violence in the communities we serve and beyond.”