Cooley Dickinson Hospital has become a significant presence at the Hot Chocolate Run, ranking among the Blue Ribbon Sponsors. They understand the importance of the link between the medical system and domestic violence.
To Dr. R.F. Conway, Medical Director of Emergency Services, the partnership between Cooley Dickinson and Safe Passage is a natural response to what he sees as a major health care issue. He sees the victims and their children come to the Emergency Department, with injuries suffered through recent acts of violence. Sometimes patients are forthcoming about how the injuries happened, describing incidents of violence committed by a family member or partner. Most times, however, patients present a vague story, something that explains the way that injuries may have happened without naming it as violence. Dr. Conway is quick to point out that he understands that this is not out of dishonesty, but is often based in real fear. He says he hopes that Cooley Dickinson’s participation in the Hot Chocolate Run can show people that they are a supportive place for survivors to find the words and safety to tell their health care provider about the violence that they may be keeping a secret. He also knows that in order for that to happen, that he, and the other doctors, nurses, and health care professionals need to know how to respond.
The other way that these issues connect is through the recognition of child abuse. Often, he says, when a child is reported as being abused or neglected, they know that the child may be hearing or seeing domestic violence. Identifying survivors of domestic violence through reports of child abuse has become a best practice in medical settings and Cooley-Dickinson takes this responsibility seriously. As an institution they have developed training for their medical providers on ways to ask and on ways to respond to disclosures. They have incorporated an understanding that interpersonal violence and child abuse are part of the spectrum of health issues.
Dr. Conway hopes that the partnership between Cooley Dickinson and then Hot Chocolate Run will help promote this integration and awareness of the issues. He is quick to point out that domestic violence is part of every community, and knows no boundaries of economic status, age, geography, or race.
We’re proud and grateful that Cooley Dickinson has chosen the Hot Chocolate Run as one of its selected events to support.