BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The Kaiser Permanente family violence prevention program was started in Southern California in 2007 and implemented in Kern County just four years ago.
"In our outpatient setting and primary care clinic we started screening women ages 18 to 64 years-old, said Dr. Racquel Pina, Chief of Family Medicine at Kaiser Permanente.
Patients who may be potential victims are screened by answering a questionnaire, which is then given to the primary provider.
Dr. Racquel Pina became passionate about the issue after learning of direct link between domestic violence and health.
"Women who have been affected by domestic violence have higher incidence of chronic medical conditions like obesity, as well as mental health outcomes", said Pina.
Mental health in young children is also compromised when they are exposed to domestic violence.
"So we see a lot more depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse in those children", said Pina.
Putting an end to abuse is the goal of the program, making sure victims are not only identified but also given the right resources.
"Here within Kaiser Permanente we have a referral system and we work with behavioral health department, medical, and social workers and therapists who are directly trained to work with domestic violence victims", said Pina.
The Kern County clinic also has built a partnership with the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault to better assist victims.
"If we don't ask then it remains private and then women don't get the help they need", said Pina.