Grant Application

Jonathan Encarnacion, MBA, UPMC for You, and Mary Kay Bernkosky, MBA, JD, Berks Women in Crisis


Proposed Innovation

Domestic violence is a serious health care problem in the United States. Statistics show more than 10 million women and men annually — nearly 20 people per minute — are physically abused by an intimate partner. Besides the immediate trauma caused by abuse, domestic violence also contributes to chronic health problems such as depression, alcohol and substance abuse, and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. And, it often limits the ability of victims to manage chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension.

Despite the enormity of the problem, there is a critical gap in the delivery of health care to victims of domestic violence, with many providers treating injuries without addressing the underlying cause. With a grant from the Beckwith Institute and additional funding from the Wyomissing Foundation, a Medical Advocacy Program (MAP) will be established to train and educate providers in the Berks County community through the Berks Women in Crisis (BWIC).


Improvements in Action

Health care professionals are in a unique position to privately screen for abuse as a routine activity of patient contact. The MAP program will focus on increasing awareness of the impact of domestic violence on public health and educating health care providers and the community on how to identify, assess, and refer patients to BWIC for safety planning and other services.

The MAP program also will give domestic violence victims a voice by bringing them together to share their perspective with clinicians and case managers. Engaging survivors in the shared decision-making process will help to ensure providers take into account their values and preferences.


Results – In Progress

The MAP program will establish a comprehensive system of care coordinated via the BWIC that includes health care, mental health, drug and alcohol, and other providers, and takes into consideration the emotional and physical trauma suffered by survivors. It is expected to:

  • Reduce Emergency Department visits
  • Improve interaction during patient visits
  • Remove barriers so more victims take advantage of available resources
  • Create a more responsive system that meets patients’ needs

An outcomes-based evaluation will be conducted by Alvernia University’s department of social work.