The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, in conjunction with The Firearm Injury Center at Penn (FICAP), the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation (PHMC) and other local partners, will implement the State’s new hospital-based, injury surveillance and intervention system to aid in violence prevention strategies.
The Pennsylvania Injury Reporting and Intervention System (PIRIS), a new and unique initiative by Pennsylvania’s Department of Health, will collect information on gunshot wound injuries, which will be used by state and local agencies and community partnerships to target activities, develop new programs, and evaluate current violence reduction efforts.
PIRIS data will be collected for youth 15-24 with interpersonal or self-inflicted gunshot wounds. The ability to track the incidence and characteristics of violence can serve as the basis to develop violence prevention strategies and for reducing the impact and repercussions of violence on youth, families and communities.
“This system is built on a public health model, which is a science-based approach,” said Dr. Rose Cheney, executive director of FICAP and adjunct professor of surgery. “The public health model has proven in the past to be successful in reducing rates of motor vehicle accidents and incidents of infectious diseases.”
Another aspect of PIRIS will be the development of a multi-system intervention for the victim and their families, to address the significant impact these injuries can have, prevent and reduce future violent crime, and reduce the risk of recurring violence, whether through re-injury or retaliation.
Referrals to community services, job training, education programs, mental health treatment, and other programs will be tailored toward the needs of the victims and their families. Linking emergency trauma care to comprehensive community follow-up and access to resources, through PHMC, marks an expansion of efforts to reduce high levels of violence.
“The PIRIS project will bring together numerous resources to address this problem,” added Dr. Cheney. “Gun violence is very complex and is not easily solved through one single solution. Effective prevention requires collaboration across multiple dimensions.”
While there is still much to learn about preventing the continuing cycle of youth violence, experts now feel that violence is preventable. A growing body of evidence indicates that comprehensive risk reduction and youth development approaches are needed to assure successful outcomes for young people. PIRIS is designed to use promising practices for reducing repeated violent injury, while building better evidence for interventions. The Pennsylvania Department of Health expects that this project, once it is fully implemented, will have the potential to reduce youth violence and subsequently lower the overall health care costs of treating these victims of violence.
PIRIS was developed in response to the findings of the Governor’s commission on gun violence. The six-month public health pilot program also will include Temple University Hospital and the Albert Einstein Medical Center, with plans to expand to the rest of the state.