One of the most poignant parts of our recent conversation with Brenda Battle, System Vice President of Community Health Transformation, and Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at University of Chicago Medicine was related to the impact of violence and how it showed up in their CHNA.

When University of Chicago Medicine (UChicago Medicine) began working with Metopio to compile its fourth CHNA, violence was one of the key concerns for community members and is why one of the CHNA’s health priorities was building trauma resiliency.

Violence showed up so strongly across our CHNA and it is an issue we’ve been working on for a number of years,” said Brenda. “We have a hospital-based violence intervention. It has really focused on having solutions that are going to reduce injury, re-injury rates, and return rates to emergency departments.”

But UChicago Medicine also realizes that violence is much more than bodily harm.

“In our community, there’s so much attached to the issue of violence, and the impact of it on the lives of individuals in our community is so great,” Brenda pointed out. “The impact is not just on their mental health but on their physical health. It’s on how they interact within the community, with each other, and with their family. We know from the hospital-based violence interventions we’ve been using that building resiliency to trauma is really critical to addressing a number of the impacts that violence has on individuals’ lives.”

Using the science of resiliency in violence recovery programs

“We want to use the science around resiliency training, both in our community and with our staff, to really address this issue of trauma resiliency,” Brenda said. “It’s important for us because it is such a pervasive problem in our community. We’ve got to continue to focus our efforts on resiliency and build upon the work that we have done for the last five or six years in a very concerted way, working alongside the community to align with existing efforts. By aligning with the community, we can really solve for some of these underlying and root causes of health issues.”

UChicago Medicine’s Violence Recovery Program addresses challenges for individuals who are survivors of violence, as well supporting their families and friends by offering emotional and psychological support. Brenda shared that the program is already making a difference.

“We see that in our trauma center when we measure the return rate or readmission rate for individuals who’ve experienced trauma and violence, we see a rate that’s under 2% for those enrolled in our violence recovery program. The national standard is around 15% so our violence recovery program has been very effective in reducing harm for individuals that have been affected by violence, and reducing the return rate to the emergency room or trauma center because of harm.”

Brenda emphasized that these insights and the collaborative approach that UChicago Medicine has taken creates an integrated way to see transformation in community health. “These issues are all compounding on each other. So, when we’re thinking about transforming health, you can’t just transform healthcare. You’ve got to transform the system that drives health in our community. That’s what we think about when we’re working to transform healthcare on the south side [of Chicago].”