Page 4 - Heart of Hoag - Issue 3
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Human Options partners with Hoag’s health care professionals to reduce and prevent domestic violence by bringing to light an issue that thrives in silence.
Grant Trains Health Providers to Identify Abuse and Connect Patients with Human Options
Programs designed to connect battered patients with support
A controlling, suspicious partner. Unexplained bruises. Low self-worth. Physicians and nurses learn how to recognize the telltale signs of domestic violence during their medical training. What they don’t always learn is what to do with that information.
Human Options helps break the cycle of domestic violence by providing emergency shelter to more than 200 women and children each year and offering help and services to another 800 a year through community-based programs.
Through a grant provided by the Hoag Community Benefit Program, the nonprofit has now begun training doctors, nurses and other health care providers to connect battered patients with the support they need.
For some women in abusive relationships, the doctor’s office is one of the few places their partners “allow” them to go to alone. This makes physician offices and community clinics important places for identifying and helping victims of domestic violence. Unfortunately, doctors don’t always know how best to help.
“A lot of times physicians identify abuse and say, ‘Now what do I do?’” said Maricela Rios-Faust, chief operations officer for Human Options. “We let physicians know that if there is somebody in their office who is afraid to go home, just connect them with us. We can take it from there.”
For the past 20 years, health care providers have been legally required to report incidents of domestic violence to police – even if their patients beg them not to. This program doesn’t change that requirement, but it gives physicians and other health care providers a resource to share with their
patients if they are afraid to go home or need immediate help out of an abusive situation. Human Options hopes the program will also help prevent abuse from becoming a law enforcement issue in the first place.
“This program takes it back to prevention. Physicians can say, ‘Let’s get this before it becomes something I have to treat medically,’” said Shirley Gellatly, director of community education for Human Options. “Health care providers are happy to do this. They understand that this is a public health issue.’”
The grant from Hoag has enabled Human Options to train physicians, medical staff and even non-medical staff at area hospitals to identify abuse and connect women and children with the help they need.
“Oftentimes it takes someone who the woman trusts to be able to make that connection,” Rios-Faust said. “If they have a trusting relationship with a health provider, that’s the person who is going to help them see ‘This is not normal.’”

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