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KU Health System's 'Revive' program part of network to prevent youth violence in KCK

Revive connects young trauma patients to services after hospital discharge
KCK Shooting.jpeg
Posted at 5:42 PM, Nov 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-02 13:42:52-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- — Over the last couple years, KSHB 41 News has reported on the uptick in teen violence in Kansas City, Kansas — specifically gun violence.

We know communities that see more violence see worse health outcomes.

According to the Wyandotte County Health Department, homicide is the number one cause of death for people ages 15 to 44 in Wyandotte.

The county sees more violence in general, and among its youth, then neighboring counties across Kansas.

A painful reminder of this violence happened on Halloween night, when people came to a high school party and allegedly opened fire after being told to leave.

This violence resulted in the death of a 17-year-old Turner student and seven other kids hurt.

A majority of the victims were 15 and 16 years old and the oldest was 18, according to police.

Police estimated between 70 to 100 people were at the party, ranging in age from 14 to 16-year-olds and other high school-age students.

ThrYve, an organization that provides a network of services to prevent youth violence in KCK, says 28% of kids don't feel safe where they live. About the same percent of kids report fights in their neighborhoods.

In addition to ThrYve and other groups working to change these unfortunate statistics, the University of Kansas Health System is stepping in as well.

Mostly 18 to 24 year-olds come into the hospital with violence injuries, predominantly gun shot wounds. And the patients are getting younger and younger.

"If you think about traumatic injuries as in time lost and productivity lost, those young folks being injured, it's a life-long impact for them," Olivia Desmarais, the injury prevention coordinator at the KU Health System, said.

In 2020, the hospital launched Revive, a violence intervention program for young people aged 12 - 24.

A social worker based out of the AdHoc Group Against Crime, called a hospital responder, will get an alert when a young person comes into the ICU with traumatic injuries.

The responder will go straight to the patient's bedside to figure out a plan moving forward.

"Revive will provide them with six months of case management services after they get discharged home from the hospital," Desmarais said. "The goal is to get folks back on their feet, help them obtain safe housing, if they need help with employment, job readiness program. If they need help with food security or transportation, those are all things we want to provide for folks."

A patient so young will continue to feel the pain and trauma of that violence even after they go home, according to Desmarais.

"By taking folks who have already been injured by violence and making sure their social determinants of health are improved and addressed, the goal would be that they don't get re-entered again or that they don't retaliate against anyone because of their injury," Desmarais said.

Since starting the program, Desmarais noticed that out of the 64 participants she counted, 56 had gunshot wounds, seven had blunt assaults and one had stab wounds.

In 2022, kids 17 and under who were injured by violence and received help from the Revive program increased by 16%.

Focusing on this age group is critical, Desmarais says, because they can "up their supports, especially while they're still at home, while they still have ties to the community through the school."

Desmarais was a trauma nurse in the KU Health System's ICU for five years, then moved to a new position in the trauma department in 2018.

"Being here for so long and not seeing a drastic improvement, I think is probably most disheartening," Desmarais said. "But it drives me to do things like this. I spent five years at the bedside taking care of folks when they got injured and I kind of said to myself, 'There's got to be a better way to treat these folks.'"

Revive works directly with ThrYve and the county health department.