Conference Summary Report
After eight months of careful planning, logistical coordination, and extensive marketing, the Center on Domestic Violence launched the Colorado Regional Conference on the Health Care Response to Domestic Violence on the afternoon of December 9, 2008 at the Grand Hyatt in Denver. The two-and-a-half day conference attracted 166 attendees from 19 states and Canada who came to hear some of the leading voices in the field of violence against women.
The conference accomplished its objective of featuring nationally acclaimed experts in the field of domestic violence, who could provide highly informative, evidence-based presentations on the health care response to domestic violence. These experts included Elaine Alpert, MD, MPH, FACP of Boston University’s School of Medicine and Richard Krugman, MD, Dean of the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine, who opened the conference on Sunday with a keynote presentation tilted “Laying the Foundation: The Role of Health Care in Addressing Domestic Violence.” In the following days participants would attend 16 workshops presented by a diverse group of 40 speakers from across the region, including health care practitioners, attorneys, direct service providers, policy analysts, and government officials.
Workshops and Plenary Sessions
The workshops were divided into four tracks to meet the large variety of interests represented at the conference; they were: 1) Clinical Responses, featuring sessions such-as “What If She Says Yes,” 2) Specialty Areas, featuring sessions such- as “The Co-Occurrence of Domestic Violence and Rape,” 3) Model Programs, featuring sessions such-as ‘Emergency Department: Regulation, Evidence and Response,” and 4) Special Populations, featuring sessions such-as “Domestic Violence: Health Impact on Children and Teens.”
A total of four plenary sessions were featured, ending with a fascinating keynote presentation by Jacquelyn Campbell, PhD, RN, FAAN and Brigid McCaw, MD, MPH, MS, FACP titled “Moving Forward: Setting the Path Towards Freedom from Violence.” Each plenary was introduced by a local dignitaries, including Captain Zachary Taylor, MD, Regional Health Administrator of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Joan Henneberry, Director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance.
The conference included a display of autobiographical artwork of domestic violence survivor Theresa A. Anderson, which attendees could view during breaks in the Exhibit Hall. The hall also included educational exhibits on women’s health and violence against women from government agencies and non-profit partners. In addition, conference participants were treated to the premiere of “Holding the Line” an award-winning documentary film by Sue Hagedorn, a presenter at the conference and Professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado Denver, School of Nursing.
The collaboration with Kaiser Permanente to hold the conference was invaluable. In addition to their generous grant to support the conference, Kaiser’s Domestic Violence Task Force provided their Silent Witness display for the Exhibition Hall, which was a stunning and poignant reminder of the impact of domestic violence. Additional sponsors of the conference included: the Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region VIII; the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado; and the Office on Violence Against Woman, U.S. Department of Justice.
Certificate in Interpersonal Violence and Health Care Launched
The conference served as a successful launching point for the Certificate in Interpersonal Violence and Health Care (CIVHC), scheduled to begin in May 2009. The CIVHC allows conference participants to deepen their knowledge on how to improve the health care response to domestic violence, and ultimately become champions of the cause in their workplaces. These individuals will serve as a catalyst for new protocols, guidelines, and best-practices at hospitals, clinics and private doctor’s offices across Colorado to improve domestic violence services.
Overall, the conference achieved its goal of providing attendees with a deeper understanding of the health provider’s role in responding to victims of domestic violence. This will undoubtedly lead to a more skilled workforce of healthcare providers, social workers, and advocates who can provide the necessary support, care, and resources to victims to help them become and remain safe.