Northwestern Medicine Helps Support New Approach to Reduce Chicago Violence, Help Victims of Trauma

Northwestern Medicine
Emergency Medicine and Trauma September 19, 2014
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Rev. Chris HarrisChicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Rev. Chris Harris, founder of Bright Star Community Outreach (BSCO) and senior pastor of Bright Star Church, discuss a new approach to helping victims of violence at the Bright Star Church. Photo Credit: University of Chicago

Northwestern Medicine is proud to support the new Bronzeville Dream Center which will help victims of violence with support and counseling and avert behaviors that may lead to conflict by using faith leaders to provide post-trauma counseling and other support. 

Dean M. Harrison, president and CEO of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Pastor Chris Harris of Bright Star Church and other leaders announced the new, innovative approach on Sept. 18, 2014 at the Bright Star Church in Bronzeville. In addition to Northwestern Medicine, this novel community health model is being supported by Bright Star Community Outreach, University of Chicago Medicine and the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. 

“This approach is a breakthrough among discussions to reduce violence,” said Northwestern’s Harrison, who is also cabinet chair of United Way of Metro Chicago. “Faith leaders already possess trust in their communities. We want to leverage those connections to reach people who need post-trauma counseling by using proven data-driven methods.”

As two leading Chicago-based academic medical centers, Northwestern Medicine and the University of Chicago Medicine will provide program evaluation, access to psychiatric expertise, and financial support. The two will also bring their research experience and medical resources to Harris’ program, along with access to other critical programming needs as identified. 

The new Dream Center is drawing on the model used by NATAL- Israel Trauma Center, which helps residents of communities affected by war and terrorism cope with and reverse the traumatic aftereffects of violence. In addition to NATAL, Dream Center organizers will be working with Social Development Research Group’s Communities That Care, an approach that seeks to strengthen the community and prevent youth delinquency, substance use and violence. Under the partnership, the University of Chicago Medicine and Northwestern Medicine committed $250,000 each for the first two years of data gathering, implementation. Pastor Harris said he got the idea for a counseling center after visiting the NATAL Israeli Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War in Tel Aviv.  

Dream Center organizers are taking a phased approach to the project, first focusing on training and surveying the Bronzeville community. Work is under way with CTC to develop the survey that will go out by early next year. Counseling and other services are expected to be implemented starting in late summer or early fall 2015. The hope is that the Dream Center’s unique model can be replicated in other Chicago neighborhoods.


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