Health CARES

Health CARES: Preparing healthcare sites to identify and respond to the needs of patients experiencing intimate partner violence and non-fatal strangulation.
Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious, preventable public health problem. Intimate partner non-fatal strangulation is linked to long-term health impacts and a 7-fold increased risk of completed homicide. Healthcare providers play a key role in the screening, response to and care for patients experiencing IPV and strangulation. The San Diego County Health CARES Initiative was launched to provide healthcare providers education, tools, and awareness materials to address this critical issue.
A comprehensive education and awareness initiative was developed, launched and implemented by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, Palomar Health Forensic Services, and County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, Public Health Services. With a focus on bringing best practices for screening and response for IPV and strangulation to healthcare sites in our county, the initiative includes training; kits with educational materials, brochures, and screening tools; a website with information and resources; awareness posters; and wallet cards in five languages to be provided to patients.
Every major healthcare organization attended a training launch in October 2019. More than 500 comprehensive kits, 27,000 wallet cards and brochures in multiple languages, and 9,000 posters in English and Spanish are being distributed to over 60 healthcare-related locations across San Diego County. Sustainability plans for the campaign include a webinar series, onsite training at each site, and technical assistance, and the development of a set of Standards for our county’s healthcare providers’ detection and response practices for patients experiencing IPV and IPV related strangulation.
We are encouraging healthcare staff to use the Health CARES procedures, tools, and awareness materials now more than ever. Just as it is now important to screen for COVID-19, it is just as important to continue screening for abuse. This may be a patient’s only opportunity, away from the abuser, to get help.
Staying in close quarters, fears about the spread of the virus, difficulty obtaining needed food or supplies, job loss or loss of income are just a few of the factors that may be adding stress to couples. Such challenges can be compounding factors for abuse and violence, although not the underlying cause.
Now more than ever, it’s important to use the Health CARES steps:
C - Conduct Screening for current and former intimate partner abuse
A - Assess for signs and symptoms of strangulation
R - Report suspicious injuries to law enforcement
E - Evaluate patient (evidence collection by a Forensic Examiner)
S - Safety Plan and connect patient to resources
Visit for links to training, resources, and education.
To access the items for healthcare staff use:  
Awareness items for patients:  
Here are a few handy resources:  
Here are a few recent sites and articles on COVID-19 and intimate partner abuse:

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