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Northwest Hospital's DOVE Program

2013 Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services | National Crime Victims’ Service Awards

Northwest Hospital's DOVE Program | Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services
Team Members: Audrey Bergin; Cassie Offutt; Robin Straiten; Sharion Phillip; Tamara McDonald; Rosalyn Berkowitz
Randallstown, Maryland

The Domestic Violence (DOVE) Program at Northwest Hospital provides 24/7 crisis intervention to more than 800 domestic violence victims each year in Baltimore County, Maryland. 

DOVE is the only hospital-based domestic violence response program in Maryland that works directly with local police. When responding to a domestic violence incident, law enforcement officers use a Lethality Assessment Screen to evaluate the victim’s risk level for homicide. 

If the victim scores high and does not want to go to the hospital-based program, law enforcement will immediately contact DOVE’s 24-hour Lethality Hotline, where a staff member will explain the meaning of “high danger” and arrange for shelter. Staff will also follow up within 48 hours to offer DOVE’s support services. 

Victims are offered crisis counseling and safety planning, forensic documentation of injuries, referrals to community resources, and temporary emergency assistance to meet basic needs (e.g., food, transportation, medical care). Ongoing case management and counseling, court accompaniment, and linkage to employment, housing, and other social services are also provided. 

In addition, DOVE’s groundbreaking Strangulation Response Project is changing the way medical staff and policymakers view and respond to strangulation. While strangulation often results in little to no visible bruising, it can pose a threat of death occurring hours or days later due to internal injuries. DOVE staff train both medical staff and law enforcement to recognize and respond to strangulation to ensure that the victim gets the best immediate care. 

DOVE’s goal for victims of domestic violence is for them to become self-sufficient and build a life for themselves and their children that is free from abuse.