Today is an especially important day to celebrate the Domestic Violence Healthcare Partnership (DVHCP) between Center for Community Solutions (CCS) and Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest (PPPSW), who have worked so passionately together to serve our clients and patients. In 2014, a formalized partnership was developed, addressing how intimate partner violence (IPV) impacts an individual’s health, striving to strengthen each agency’s capacity to serve those affected by this particular kind of violence. As a result, CCS and PPPSW developed a culturally humble partnership in which CCS staff delivers trauma-informed trainings to PPPSW staff on how to provide empowering and effective IPV screenings, assess for and identify IPV, normalize the conversations after disclosures, and ultimately how to make a warm referral to CCS. In addition, and as part of our bi-directional approach, Planned Parenthood also provides CCS staff trainings addressing basic health education, tools and guides on normalizing the conversation around reproductive health, and trauma-informed access to their reproductive healthcare services.
In an effort to best meet the needs of the patients and staff at PPPSW, Cynthia Melchor, CCS’ Community Outreach & Advocacy Coordinator, provides on-site advocacy to patients at 12 healthcare sites, supporting both entities in identifying needs and responding in innovative and culturally humble ways. As a result, PPPSW has now integrated a referral form into their electronic database that is accessible to all staff, if there is a patient who discloses IPV. Providers are also trained to ask if the individual feels comfortable being referred over to the Health Advocate. If the client consents to being contacted, the advocate would then work with the individual to access CCS’s legal services, counseling, residential, or if eligible, engaging with other program advocates. The advocate can also support the liaison to other agencies, such as accessing immigration services, transitional housing, all in an effort to address the client’s respective goals.
This program is innovative in that in many situations, the advocate tends to meet a patient when they are at a health center, usually addressing a health care need they may think is not related to IPV, for example chronic headaches, which can be a symptom found in IPV survivors. In these cases, a patient’s expectation is usually not centered on their unhealthy relationship. This is why, through caring, compassionate, and supportive conversations, Cynthia is able to engage the patient with CCS’ services, at their pace, always sharing that the services are there for whenever they are ready.
CCS invites all healthcare staff to join in addressing Intimate Partner Violence as a leading health issue, working collectively to improve the safety, well being, and quality of life for all who are impacted.
Below is a tool that was shared by Beth Doche, IPV Survivor and DV Health Advocate, on ways in which healthcare staff can help address IPV:
S.A.V.E – Method of Screening
- Screen ALL Patients
- Ask Direct Questions
- Validate Patient’s Response
- Evaluate, Educate, and Make Referrals