Public Health Professor Leading Collaborative Initiative to Address Violence in Liberty City

Supported by a BUILD Health Challenge grant, a team of health professionals and community leaders is launching a collaborative initiative to address the longstanding problem of violence and its impact on the overall health of Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood.

“We plan to develop innovative, evidence-based strategies that will allow us to tackle the root causes of this deadly public health problem,” said Roderick K. King, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and CEO of the Florida Institute for Health Innovation.

In September, BUILD Health Challenge, a national partnership, awarded a $75,000 planning grant for “Building a Healthy and Resilient Liberty City,” an anti-violence intervention program led by the Florida Institute for Health Innovation, the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County, and Jackson Health System

“One of the innovative aspects of our approach will be integrating law enforcement and public health data in order to find the deeply rooted connections between violence and community health,” said King, a board-certified pediatrician who has focused on improving the health of underserved communities.

“We received the only one of the 18 BUILD Health Challenge grants awarded in the Southeastern U.S.,” said King, noting that only the Miami and Baltimore grants focused on violence.

In the initial phase of the program, King and the institute team plan to work closely with trauma specialists at the UHealth and Jackson Health Systems, and area law enforcement officers to gather data on the victims of violence, the time and location of attacks and other factors related to the problem, King said.

“Our role at the Miller School will be to provide the infrastructure and support to understand that data and drive decision making,” said King. “We will also develop performance measures to understand the potential outcomes of different types of interventions. We will take a broad approach to the problem, because exposure to direct or indirect violence has serious health consequences beyond the crime-related factors of injury and death.”

Other partners in the Liberty City program include the Miami Children’s Initiative, Catalyst Miami and the Jesse Trice Community Health Center in Liberty City. Miami Children’s Initiative will use its “block-by-block” approach with residents to drive planning, and Catalyst Miami will provide Liberty City parents with leadership training to build community capacity for resident-driven collective action.

“Through the power of collaboration, we expect to make healthy changes for the residents of Liberty City,” King said. “Our goal is to make positive headway on this complex health problem.”

The BUILD Health Challenge, a national award created jointly by the Advisory Board Company, the de Beaumont Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Colorado Health Foundation, encourages communities to build meaningful partnerships between hospitals and health systems, community-based organizations and local health departments to improve the health of local populations by addressing the factors that lead to poor health.

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