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Department of Health Highlights Violence as a Public Health Issue
Date:3/27/2008

Philadelphia City Council Acknowledges Department's Anti-Violence Program

PHILADELPHIA, March 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Department of Health and its partners were recognized today by Philadelphia City Council for the department's Pennsylvania Injury Reporting and Intervention System, or PIRIS, a unique pilot program that addresses gun violence in Philadelphia.

The system provides comprehensive intervention services to 15- to 24-year-old gunshot victims who are admitted to PIRIS-participating hospitals. City Council introduced a resolution acknowledging PIRIS as part of the comprehensive approach for dealing with gun violence by identifying issues and providing solutions.

"While it is an honor for the department to be recognized, it is imperative that the attention be directed to the public health epidemic of violence that is devastating our communities," said Secretary of Health Dr. Calvin B. Johnson. "I stand with many of our partners today who view violence as a public health issue and want to prevent violence from occurring throughout the city and commonwealth."

PIRIS is currently being implemented at three trauma centers: Albert Einstein Medical Center, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and Temple University Hospital. Nearly 40 percent of all Pennsylvania firearm-related hospitalizations among 15- to 24-year-olds take place at these three centers.

Joining Dr. Johnson at today's event were representatives of all three hospitals, the Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network, the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation, the Drexel School of Public Health, and Blueprint for a Safer Philadelphia. Public officials included Rep. Dwight Evans, Philadelphia Councilwoman Marian Tasco, and Deputy Mayor and Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Donald Schwarz.

"Hearing our partners tell their stories, such as those shared by trauma doctors who treat gunshot wounds everyday in their emergency rooms, provides eye-opening perspectives," said Dr. Johnson. "There are only so many wounds they can heal. We all need to work together to stop the violence."

As part of the department's efforts to prevent further violence in the lives of these victims and family members, PIRIS provides information and referral services, which include assistance with obtaining health insurance, education, job training, transportation, counseling, family needs, legal issues, parenting and recreational activities.

In addition, researchers continue to review extensive data to refine the PIRIS program and make recommendations for future anti-violence interventions. This information will be used to expand PIRIS from a pilot project in Philadelphia to other areas of the state also impacted by violence.

For more information about the PIRIS program, visit http://www.piris-pa.org.

CONTACT: Stacy Kriedeman

(717) 787-1783


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health
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