Building Bridges to a Brighter Future with the Bridge Program
The Bridge Program was founded by UMMC's Violence Intervention Program. The program assists patients, employees and students in Baltimore City and the surrounding counties who are experiencing or have experienced any form of intimate-partner violence. Services can include bedside crisis intervention, counseling and referrals as well as assistance obtaining protective/peace orders. The impact of the program is best understood by hearing how we are helping patients.
Bella is a 38-year-old single mother of seven children (ages 4 to 17) who came to the UMMC emergency room in late 2015 after being assaulted by her ex-boyfriend. She was previously a patient at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center after sustaining several injuries at the hands of this same ex-boyfriend.
The medical team discovered Bella had two jaw fractures, a nasal fracture and an orbital fracture. After disclosing to the nurse practitioner (NP) that her ex-boyfriend assaulted her, the NP called the Bridge Program, which operates 24/7, and the coordinator immediately came to Bella's bedside.
The coordinator entered the room, introduced herself and said, "I am here to help." Bella was cautiously optimistic that this stranger could indeed help, and relieved that someone finally wanted to listen to her story and provide guidance and assistance.
This ER visit set into motion many things for Bella, including:
- Locating an immediate safe shelter
- Later locating a new, safe, affordable home for her and her seven children and grant-funded assistance for the security deposit and the first month's rent
- Receiving printed photos of her injuries for protective-order proceedings
- Connecting with a pro-bono attorney through the University of Maryland Law School Gender Violence Clinic
- Advocating for her with the State's Attorney
- Getting additional services for her two children with disabilities
- Obtaining counseling for her and her three older children, who had witnessed the abuse over the years
Today, Bella and her children live free of the violence that had consumed 10 years of their lives. While she struggles with the day-to-day issues that a single mom of seven faces, she stands tall and is proud of the progress she has made for herself and her children.
Bella is just one of the dozens of victims of intimate partner violence who are helped by the Bridge Program each month.
It took unimaginable strength and courage for Bella to stop abuse from dominating her life and to trust a stranger who appeared in her hospital room and said, "I am here to help."
*Bella's name was changed to protect her identity and safety.
To make a referral or request further information, please call the Bridge team at 410-328-2425.