Senator LORETTA WEINBERG
District 37 (Bergen)
Establishes “Domestic Violence Health Care Response Act.”
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning domestic violence training for health and mental health professionals and supplementing chapter 27D of Title 52 of the New Jersey Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Short title. This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Domestic Violence Health Care Response Act.”
2. Definitions. As used in this act:
a. “Department” means the Department of Community Affairs.
b. “Division” means the Division on Women in the Department of Community Affairs.
c. “Domestic Violence Program” means a nonprofit organization or program having a primary purpose of providing services to domestic violence victims, including, but not limited to, crisis hotline, safe homes or shelter, community education, counseling, victim advocacy, systems intervention and information, transportation, information and referral and victim assistance.
d. “Health Center” means a for-profit or nonprofit health center providing clinically related health services.
e. “Health Clinic” means a for-profit or nonprofit clinic providing health services.
f. “Hospital” means an acute care general hospital licensed pursuant to P.L.1971, c.136 (C.26:2H-1 et seq.).
g. “Medical Advocacy” means the provision of education and training for the purpose of universal screening in order to identify victims of domestic violence who are seeking medical treatment for related or unrelated reasons.
h. “Universal Screening” means the process of asking patients seeking medical treatment at a hospital, health center or clinic during the course of medical examinations or treatment about the possibility of domestic violence within their relationships, regardless of whether they are suspected to be victims of domestic violence.
3. Domestic Violence Health Care Response Program
a. Establishment. There is established within the Division on Women of the Department of Community Affairs the Domestic Violence Health Care Response Program.
b. Purpose. The purpose of the program shall be to support the development of domestic violence medical advocacy projects in this State which would assist in the implementation of domestic violence policies and procedures as well as provide training for health and mental health professionals to improve hospital, health center and clinic response to domestic violence victims seeking medical treatment, as well as to provide mental health professionals with the ability to identify domestic violence offenders who are harmful to themselves and others.
c. Training. The domestic violence training provided for under this act shall be conducted by the appropriate personnel provided by the Department of Health and Senior Services, in consultation with the Division on Women in the Department of Community Affairs and the Division of Mental Health Services in the Department of Human Services.
d. Medical Advocacy Project Sites. The division shall select medical advocacy project sites with representation from urban, rural and suburban areas. To ensure the effectiveness of the program, the project sites shall not be made public.
e. Annual Report. Utilizing information provided under paragraph (5) of subsection (f) of this section, the division shall compile an annual report to be submitted to the chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the chairman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee providing oversight of the Department of Community Affairs.
f. Program Elements. Each domestic violence medical advocacy project shall:
(1) Demonstrate active collaboration between local community-based domestic violence programs, hospitals, health centers and clinics, and the New Jersey chapters of professional groups participating in the project, such as the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, and the National Association of Social Workers.
(2) Develop and implement uniform multidisciplinary domestic violence policies and procedures which incorporate the roles and responsibilities of all health and mental health professionals who provide services or interact with victims of domestic violence or domestic violence offenders, including the identification of victims of domestic violence through universal screening and adequate evaluations of domestic violence offenders.
(3) Develop and implement a multidisciplinary, comprehensive and ongoing domestic violence education and training program for all health and mental health professionals. The training program shall include, but is not limited to, identifying characteristics of domestic violence, screening patients for domestic violence, appropriately documenting in the medical record and offering referral services, including domestic violence resources available in the community.
(4) Provide available educational materials to inform victims of domestic violence about the services and assistance available through state and local community-based domestic violence programs.
(5) Develop formal project assessment procedures, including, but not limited to coordinating and collecting data for the evaluation of the projects and their effectiveness in reducing the incidence of domestic violence and overall health care costs, including emergency room costs.
4. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill establishes the “Domestic Violence Health Care Response Act,” which creates the Domestic Violence Health Care Response Program within the Division on Women in the Department of Community Affairs. The Board found that many domestic violence fatalities could have been prevented if a coordinated community response to the issue had been fostered. The Board found that a coordinated community response requires that all members of the community be prepared to identify a victim of domestic violence, recommend or offer services that are appropriate and sensitive to the victim’s needs, promote safety for victims, and demand accountability for domestic violence offenders. In furtherance of the Board’s goals, this bill creates the Domestic Violence Health Care Response Program, which provides training for health and mental health professionals to improve hospital, health center and clinic response to domestic violence victims seeking medical treatment, as well as to provide mental health professionals with the ability to identify domestic violence offenders who are harmful to themselves and others.
This bill is based on Recommendation Nos. 2 and 3 of the report of The New Jersey Domestic Violence Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board, issued June 2006.