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'Stand Up To Violence' Battles Rising Gun Violence, Looks To Provide Mentorship

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — COVID-19 swept through New York City, claiming many lives, businesses and jobs.

In its path of destruction, came another blow: a surge in gun violence. A team at Jacobi Medical Center is working to stand up to violence.

Gun violence has long plagued parts of New York City, particularly the Bronx. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic only made matters worse, by disproportionately impacting communities of color and leaving millions unemployed.

"June was a particularly violent month where we saw four times more the amount of violent trauma patients that we had seen the year prior in June," said Dr. Noe Romo, the Medical Director of Stand Up To Violence.


Dr. Romo heads Jacobi Medical Center's "Stand Up To Violence" program. Since 2014, his team has made strides in curbing gun violence.

It's a three-pronged approach that includes a physician and social worker working with victims of violence inside the hospital and an outreach coordinator on the streets. Their role is crucial.

The group of outreach coordinators consists of formerly troubled youth, who not only interview and mentor victims after they are discharged, but gather intel to help prevent retaliatory attacks.

"We're able to figure out maybe a little bit more around the circumstances, around why they were injured, mediate those disputes and also provide some alternatives, whether it be with job employment or education opportunities," said Dr. Romo.

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It's no easy task. Gun violence in the Bronx accounts for about half of the shootings citywide. According to the NYPD. Due to COVID-19, the program's outreach efforts have had to adapt.

"What we've been really doing is trying to do a lot of social distancing events by whenever there is a shooting in our target area, we go out, we do a shooting response," said Carjah Dawkins Hamilton, Stand Up To Violence's Program Director. "We've done things like a barbecue to-go where things are wrapped and ready to go."

The program's results speak for itself.

"We've responded to over a thousand patients in the last six years and those patients that we have seen have a 52% decreased chance of coming back for re-injury compared to those patients that we have not been able to see," said Dr. Romo.

Dr. Romo says its not enough to treat and release a patient Without mentorship and support those victims likely to come back.

The program is funding by a grant from the state.

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