Melanie R. Smalley, APRN, CNP is a trauma program manager at North Memorial Health. She is a liaison between the hospital’s trauma professionals, patients who have experienced violent injury, and the Next Step team to help patients and families get needed care and resources.
Kentral Galloway is a program manager for the Next Step Program. He facilitates the program’s approach to connecting with those in need to provide resources and support, to disrupt and end the generational cycle of violence in the community.
Q: What is the Next Step program and what is North Memorial Health’s role?
Melanie says: The Next Step program is the bridge North Memorial Health provides to help patients and families who have experienced violent injury, providing support during a patient’s stay and when they return to their community. The program is a partnership between North Memorial Health, Hennepin Health, Abbott Northwestern, the City of Minneapolis, and the State of Minnesota.
Kentral says: When community members come to the hospital, we help them to heal socially, emotionally, and mentally. We connect patients to resources, to help them safely return to their homes and communities to begin the process of re-engaging with society as their lives have been changed forever.
Q: How does the program work?
Kentral says: When someone eligible for the program comes to the Emergency Room and is admitted, a Next Step team member meets the patient and family and begins building a relationship, letting them know that they are in a safe space and the program is there to help.
If the patient is admitted, a Next Step team member visits daily working with family and friends to de-escalate the situation that caused the violence to avoid retaliation. The Next Step team works with the patient and family on a plan for after leaving the hospital. Some patients face disabilities and may need a new house or wheelchair accessibility. We help navigate those changes, working to de-escalate the situation, guiding individuals as they begin to grieve, and helping them understand how to cope with what has happened.
Q: What do you see as the role of a local hospital or healthcare system in combating violence in our communities?
Melanie says: North Memorial Health is rooted in this community. As a healthcare provider, we look at all aspects of care —while patients are in the hospital and as they transition home. The Next Step program helps us provide care after a patient leaves the hospital so we can play a role in helping communities heal after acts of violence—and hopefully, prevent future violence.
Q: What are you hopeful for as this program potentially grows?
Kentral says: Like everyone, I wish we didn’t need this kind of intervention, and I hope someday the program will no longer be needed.
Melanie says: I hope the Next Step program becomes a model for even more growth and connection between different programs serving our community.
Q: Given your commitment to this issue, what do you want community members to understand?
The Next Step program is an individualized approach for helping people to heal and change their lives. We want to help them change the environment that they are returning to so that they can live in a safe community and live a positive productive life. The program began in 2016; in its first year, repeat hospital visits decreased from 36% to just 5%.
The Next Step program—and this community—is a priority at North Memorial Health—we’ve seen firsthand the difference it can make in people’s lives.