Community groups work to address trauma in the Rock River Valley

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Recent violence in our area could be having a real effect on the community. That's why the Winnebago County Health Department is working to address some issues caused or heightened by violence.

The department invited Raul Almazar to teach community organizations how to provide "trauma-informed care". That means knowing how to interrupt the impact of trauma and bring hope to those affected.

"Most communities have really the need to heal from things that have happened in the past," Almazar said.

"Trauma doesn't know a race. It doesn't know a gender. It doesn't know how much money you have in your bank account," Rockford Mayor Thomas McNamara said.

In the past month, the county has experienced several traumatic events.

"Certainly recently, domestic violence, family violence. There are a lot of different things that can then manifest itself," said Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney.

The Health Department has chosen three areas it says need to be dealt with in the county: maternal and child health, mental and behavioral health, and violence.

"Each organization is going to have to take a look at how can it adopt trauma-informed care principles within their system," said Winnebago County Health Department Public Health Administator Dr. Sandra Martell.

Almazar believes learning to deal with trauma before events happen is the only way to fully recover.

"Say there was a shooting in a community and the response we do is a reactive response, but there is no healing that comes from that. That kind of trauma gets embedded in the history of the community," said Almazar.

Almazar says a community is most effective against trauma when all organizations work together.