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Aiding Victims of Domestic Violence, 24/7

DomesticViolence01 1Collaborative a Model for Others Nationwide

Battered and bruised from a recent confrontation, the young woman enters the Emergency Department (ED) at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center, Paterson. She is treated with compassion and skill and, when she is more comfortable, gently offered the benefits of the innovative Hospital to Court program for victims of domestic violence. 

If she chooses, the woman will use a video link that will connect her promptly, in a private setting at St. Joseph’s, with a Passaic (Vicinage) Court judge or hearing officer. The court official will take testimony from the victim and decide whether to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO). The court will fax the order to the victim at St. Joseph’s. With a TRO, a legal protection order, in hand, the victim can be escorted home by a police officer.

Hospital to Court enables injured victims – women and men – to access legal protections from the court while having the capability of seeking healthcare for their often emergent trauma issues. Protocols, procedures and an electronic bridge allow emergency court hearings from the hospital, 24/7.

“St. Joseph’s continually explores new ways to better serve the community. Hospital to Court developed during discussions between St. Joseph’s staff and Passaic County court officials several years ago. Together, we provide a unique lifesaving service,” said Sr. Maryanne Campeotto, SC, LCSW, Vice President, Mission, St. Joseph’s Health.

“Initially, the Hospital to Court video-conferencing bridge was available for individuals treated in our ED,” explained Tina Miles, LCSW, Manager, Psychiatric Emergency Services, St. Joseph’s University Medical Center. “St. Joseph’s soon expanded the program to other departments, including the Pediatric ED, which serves patients to age 23, and the Obstetrics/Gynecology Department, which serves pregnant patients with emergent medical conditions. Today, connectivity is initiated from a rolling telecommunications link utilized, as needed, across the medical center.”

In 2015, the Hospital to Court link expanded to 24/7 functionality, from its original 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (court hours) availability, due to the strong commitment of the Passaic Vicinage Domestic Violence Hearing Officer, Superior Court Assignment Judge and the Presiding Family Court Judge. Broader hours of service will enhance efficacy as domestic violence victims often turn to the ED during the night and on weekends.

This innovative model is being widely adopted across the state and country, thanks to champions in the Judiciary and healthcare industry.

“St. Joseph’s purpose is to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. Within our mission statement stands a directive, ‘to care for people who through shame might conceal their necessities.’ When victims of domestic violence turn to St. Joseph’s, they may be just as injured emotionally as they are physically. We meet their needs with comprehensive services in a caring, nonjudgmental setting. They are free to voice concerns and have their needs addressed. Hospital to Court delivers our mission,” added Sr. Maryanne. 

April 16, 2015