Coordinated Community Responses to Domestic Violence in Six Communities: Beyond the Justice System. Health Care Providers


Project Bridge grew out of a collaboration between Truman Medical Center and a domestic violence shelter, and was initiated by an attending physician in the emergency room and a faculty member at the UMKC School of Medicine who had done prior research on domestic violence. The goal of the program was to provide a "bridge" between the hospital and the community to lower barriers for battered women to access community resources. The program provides advocacy services for battered women identified and referred by emergency room physicians. The program is staffed by a full-time advocate at the hospital during business hours and on-call advocates during the evening and on weekends. The advocates meet the woman at the hospital and offer support, referrals and transportation. The program was recently expanded to cover other hospital departments including labor and delivery.

Since Missouri does not have a mandatory screening or reporting law for domestic violence, Project Bridge is based on the notion that doctors will identify and respond to domestic violence if they are give a resource (e.g., victim advocates), to provide to the victim. An emergency room attending physician directs the program, and a staff person from the shelter maintains an office at the hospital to supervise the advocates. Staff from four of the area's shelters initially served as advocates for Project Bridge, but recently additional advocates have been recruited from the community. Advocates receive a stipend for every consultation they provide to the program. Project Bridge includes an evaluation component and the staff hope to document the program's impact on the use of services and recidivism. Project staff are working with the police department and the DVN to obtain data for this study.

The Phoenix Project, which is modeled after the AWAKE program in Boston, is a joint venture between Children's Mercy Hospital, Legal Aid of Western Missouri, and a shelter. The Project is located within the hospital's social work department and targets battered women who bring their children into the hospital for medical services. Most referrals are made by hospital social workers, rather than by medical staff. Social workers refer battered woman to the Phoenix Project for counseling, legal services and referrals to shelter or other services. The project has one staff member who is a Legal Aid employee, and contracts with two attorneys to provide legal services to clients. While still in its early stages, the program has been serving between 10 and 20 women a month, and addressing mostly legal representation needs, since most women have not been interested in shelter or other services. The Phoenix Project and Project Bridge, which are located across the street from each other, have recently discussed the possibility of sharing advocacy and legal services.