Michigan Association of Health Plans

Trinity Health Muskegon SafERteens program receives $5,000 in grants to help address youth and firearm violence in Muskegon

The SafERteens program at Trinity Health Muskegon received a $2,500 grant from the Michigan Association of Health Plans (MAHP) and a matching $2,500 donation from Priority Health to fund part-time chaplains and community health workers who provide interventions during peak emergency room times to teens who are at high risk for firearm violence.

This funding is being made available as part of MAHP’s Tackling Health Care Disparities in Michigan grant program, which encourages community-based organizations to collaborate and deploy local initiatives aimed at creating better health outcomes and improving health equity.

SafERteens is an evidence-based violence prevention program originally developed at the University of Michigan. Trinity Health Muskegon partnered with the University of Michigan’s Youth Violence Prevention Center and received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to implement the evidence-based youth violence prevention program into the Trinity Health Muskegon Emergency Department. This program screens adolescents for risk factors for firearm violence, providing interventions to those who are at elevated risk.

“SafERteens is working to address firearm violence by intervening with at-risk youth. The program, which has been demonstrated in prior research to be effective, works with youth to solve conflicts in non-violent ways, stay safe in their neighborhoods, connect with available resources in their community, and achieve positive goals for their future,” said Brian Stork, MD, urologist at Michigan Medicine. “This additional funding from MAHP and Priority Health helps ensure we have enough resources to provide these interventions to youth in need.”

The statewide shortage of hospital social workers has made it more difficult for the SafERteens Muskegon program to deliver interventions to patients. Trinity Health Muskegon SafERteens will use the grant from MAHP and matching gift from Priority Health to help cover the costs of working with chaplains and community health workers to provide the program’s interventions.

“We at Trinity Health Muskegon are extremely proud of this team. They identified and researched the issue of youth gun violence in 2020 and made the connection to the SafERteens program to help us keep our teens from harm,” said Gary Allore, president of Trinity Health Muskegon. “This is who we are – a transforming, healing presence, not just here in our hospital but especially in and around our community.”

“SafERteens is dedicated to positively impacting the lives of youth in Muskegon,” said Dominick Pallone, executive director of the Michigan Association of Health Plans. “We’re honored to help fund a program that is working diligently with a hands-on approach to reduce firearm violence and health inequities in the Muskegon community.”

“Youth firearm violence is an unfortunate reality in Michigan, and I am grateful that SafERteens is working with my constituents to provide care to at-risk youth,” said Representative Will Snyder (D-Muskegon). “SafERteens is truly making a difference in our community and the support from MAHP and Priority Health will allow them to continue to do so.”

“We believe everyone has the right to a safe, healthy life. Research shows that violence and trauma contribute to worse health outcomes, which is why we are honored to provide a matching gift to SafERteens alongside MAHP,” said Jonathan Shiflett, director of government relations at Priority Health. “We whole-heartedly support the work of SafERteens as they work to prevent the traumatic impacts of violence for youth who have been disproportionately impacted.”

Those who want to learn more or support SafERteens can visit saferteens.org.

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