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LifeBridge Health unveils trauma-informed care center designed to help aid Baltimore crime fight

LifeBridge Health’s new Center for Hope building will house a first-of-its-kind multidisciplinary approach to treating victims of trauma under a single roof, combining the hospital network’s resources with professionals who deal with child abuse, domestic violence, elder justice and violence prevention.

The Baltimore-area hospital network, which unveiled the facility’s design at a city architectural review meeting last month, officially broke ground on the building Thursday.

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The 80-person Center for Hope staff will address the impacts of trauma on victims in a unique one-stop-shop space designed specifically for healing. It will include therapy suites, medical offices, a learning lab, forensic interview rooms and therapeutic play areas, said Adam Rosenberg, executive director of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, incorporated by LifeBridge as a wholly owned subsidiary early last year.

Rosenberg, now the hospital system’s vice president of violence prevention, will lead the Center for Hope as its new executive director, too.

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“We don’t just want trauma survivors to bounce back from adversity,” he said during remarks at Thursday’s groundbreaking event at the center’s planned site in Northwest Baltimore. “Our role is to work with them to recover that hope and move forward.”

Rosenberg delivered his remarks after a series of other speakers, including the majority of Maryland’s congressional delegation and Gov. Larry Hogan — who all recorded virtual statements — and Baltimore Mayor-elect Brandon Scott, who will assume the role Dec. 8.

Scott, a Park Heights native who often recounts the story of watching gun violence unfold as a kid, did not attend the event, but said in a statement read aloud during the ceremony that the Center for Hope will become a nationwide model for comprehensive responses to abuse and trauma.

“My life was forever impacted by the violence I witnessed at a young age,” Scott said. “I’ve seen firsthand the way violence affects our residents, impacting entire families and communities. The way we respond to this trauma must be equipped to support all those directly and indirectly impacted with a wide-reaching compassionate and inclusive approach.”

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Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison attended the groundbreaking event, though he did not deliver remarks.

But Rosenberg highlighted that the center would partner with several agencies, including law enforcement and Safe Streets, the violence prevention organization, which will open a new site on the campus. The center also will house domestic violence advocates, social workers, case managers and those equipped to help victims secure housing and other comprehensive services they might need.

Developers will build the two-story, 32,000 square-foot structure adjacent to Pimlico Race Course in what is now a LifeBridge employee parking lot. It comes with a price tag of about $12 million, about $6 million of which already has been secured, said Neil Meltzer, LifeBridge Health’s president and CEO.

He said he hoped the center would become a catalyst for a “brighter future” for the Baltimore community and spur new investment in the area.

The center likely will open sometime in 2022, perhaps on the tail end of the coronavirus pandemic, which has laid bare the health and wellness disparities that exist along lines of race, ethnicity, age and class.

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat, said the pandemic has resulted in spikes of domestic violence reports, substance abuse, and higher levels of anxiety and depression that need remediation now and after the public health crisis abates.

“Communities need this type of support now more than ever. Unfortunately, this public health crisis and its secondary impacts will be with us for some time,” Cardin said. “The best way for us to address the mental and emotional toll of this pandemic is to turn to evidence-based prevention and intervention programs like those offered by the Center for Hope.”

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