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Stories of Success

Violence is a public health issue and we care deeply about our community. As a Level I Trauma Center, our clinicians and staff are uniquely positioned to work to break the cycle of violence. Here we share the stories of some who have been in our programs.

Hallway with paintings on the wall.

Bridging the Gap

Youth/Community Violence Intervention Program

In December 2018, Jordan A. was admitted to VCU Medical Center due to injuries he sustained from multiple gunshot wounds. During his 15-day hospital stay Jordan enrolled in the Bridging the Gap (BTG) program and expressed to the program’s coordinator that he wanted to attend college and play basketball but he was unsure of the process as he had graduated from high school over a year ago. Jordan worked closely with his coordinator to create a road map to success. He stayed focused and is now a member of the Clinton College Men’s Basketball Junior Varsity Team in Clinton, South Carolina. 

BTG has connected with 1,187 patients with a total of 91 participants like Jordan.

A group of three women on stairs.


Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention and Advocacy Program

Nakisha S. came to the VCU Medical Center after an act of domestic violence in which she was beaten, strangled, dragged, stabbed, and thrown down her stairs. Once Nakisha was in the Emergency Department, the Project Empower staff were called in, and they never left her side.  They provided her with support as they planned her next steps, arranged a VCU Police escort to a protective shelter, purchased food, clothing, gift cards, and a journal to help with emotional healing. They also supported Nakisha and her family through court proceedings and helped her find a permanent place to live and a job. Nakisha said, “I wouldn’t have gotten through this without [Project Empower] … they provided the shelter, protection, and emotional and mental support I needed to rebuild myself.”

Project EMPOWER has served more than 1,050 patients like Nakisha.

A group of people holding certificates. Some have gone through the Emerging Leaders program.

Emerging Leaders

A Youth Violence Prevention Program

In January 2018, a 17-year-old young woman visited the pediatric emergency room for flu-like symptoms. She was screened and found to be at high risk for youth violence and chose to enroll in our mentoring and skills education provided by the Emerging Leaders program. While enrolled in Emerging Leaders, the young woman participated in group sessions and community service work and was selected for a summer internship at VCU Medical Center. As a result of her hard work during the internship, she was offered a full-time position with the VCU patient transport. The young woman continues to do well in her new role, and plans to attend VCU next fall to study nursing.

To date, Emerging Leaders has had 75 participants.

Two healthcare providers in a hallway.

Trauma Survivors Network

On New Year’s Day 1981, Kirk M. dove out a window to escape an electrical fire in his home. He sustained third-degree burns over 55% of his body and was in the hospital for nearly ten months. In 2012 Kirk reconnected with VCU Health and underwent training to become a part of VCU Health’s Trauma Survivor Network which teaches survivors how to offer assistance in recovery to others who have gone through similar, traumatic experiences. Kirk works tirelessly to support other burn and trauma survivors and has visited over 200 patients and families per year for the past several years.

There are currently 4 active trauma survivors and 8 medical students working with the TSN.

A police car in front of a car crash site, with a crowd of onlookers.

Project IMPACT

In April 2019, on the eve of prom season and graduation, students at James River High School stood shoulder to shoulder in the senior parking lot and watched as police, firefighters and EMS providers strived to save the lives of several of their fellow students who laid inside and strewn beside a crashed vehicle, covered in blood. Those students portraying victims were helping to enacted a crash scene to drive home the real impact that driving while intoxicated, high, or distracted can have. Project IMPACT coordinators then discussed the various prevention and intervention strategies for young adults to adopt. One student commented, “Seeing a crash involving your friends right in front of you makes what can happen seem much more real.”

Project IMPACT reached more than 5,000 central Virginia high school students in the 2018-2019 school year.

A young man.


Get Real – Alcohol/Drug Choices and Consequences for You

Devin was 14 years old when he overdosed on heroin and was flown by helicopter to VCU Medical Center. He was referred to the GR-ACY program which aims to affect the attitudes and behavior of those who have used drugs and alcohol to their detriment in order to decrease recidivism and prevent injury. Devin was able to observe real patients and see the struggles they face in recovering and adapting to new realities post serious traumatic injuries. He said, “I wish I could have been in this program before I made the decision I did. …It has taught me so much and has made me learn to think twice about my actions. If I had known what could have happened to me, I feel like I wouldn’t have made the decision that landed me in the hospital.”

To date GR-ACY has served 286 participants like Devin.