When a traumatic or violent event occurs in East Boston,it affects not only the victim and their family but also the victim’s extend family, friends, first-responders and neighbors who may have witnessed the incident and its aftermath.
For a little over a year, there has been a support team on hand from the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center to help those trying to cope with trauma.
The team is part of the Health Center’s new Neighborhood Trauma Team (NTT) a relatively new directive put together by Mayor Martin Walsh’s Administration and the Boston Public Health Commission.
At a meeting last week the Health Center’s Michael Mancusi and Erin Bourgault explained that the model was designed with feedback from a community engagement process that included 14 listening sessions hosted by BPHC. During this time, BPHC staff heard from more than 350 residents about what their individual and community needs have been following a violent or traumatic event.
The Health Center was chosen as one of six NTT in the city to begin responding to traumatic events in the neighborhood and help family, friends and the broader community deal with events like shootings, stabbings and suicides.
“This is a multi-agency collaboration and we (EBNHC) have been working with agencies from across East Boston like North Suffolk Mental Health, District A-7, the East Boston Soup Kitchen to begin deal with traumatic events in the community in a more concerted way,” said Mancusi.
The NTT will respond to what are called ‘qualifying events.’ After a qualifying event happens the NTT will offer immediate individual and family support and ongoing access to trauma treatment. The team will conduct community outreach and engagement to make sure residents know how to access services, and will host community meetings to share safety information and provide safe spaces for groups to come together for healing.
“The qualifying events include any gun homicide, a shooting or stabbing were the victim or victims are under the age of 18 or an open third category like suicides or attempted suicides and other incidents,” said Mancusi.
Each qualifying incident has a ripple effect in the community that starts with the victim and spreads out to family members, extended family members, friends and the community or neighbors who have witnessed a violent or traumatic event.
“When a qualifying event happens we immediately put together a plan,” said Mancusi. “Then within 12 hours of the incident we are reaching out to either the victim, family members, extended family members or witnesses to the event that may have been traumatized and need help.”
Mancusi said the Health Center’s NTT will offer a whole host of support services and follow up services for those affected by one of these traumatic events in Eastie.
“There are concentric circles that surround a traumatic incident,” said Mancusi. “We are here to help each ripple that comes from an incident that may have a deep impact on an individual or group of individuals.”
Rep. Adrian Madaro encouraged more Eastie resident to get involved in the NTT efforts.
“I’m so impressed by the turnout when we have issues we roll up our sleeves and as a community we come together and work together to solve the issues,” said Madaro. “For the Neighborhood Trauma Team to be effective it needs an neighborhood to be involved. The more people who are involved in this initiative the safer and the healthier our community will be
It is critical we stay engaged beyond tonight and I ask you all share this information with other people.”