Learning about Vulnerable Populations with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay

The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay works with victims of many crimes, specializing mainly in sexual and domestic violence. They have individuals who answer the 211 hotline which anyone can call if they are feeling suicidal, or do not know who else to call for their specific situation. Not only does the Crisis Center provide this hotline service but they also provide family stabilization for families struggling with their finances, they house the Corbitt Trauma Center and have the ambulatory care named Transcare. All individuals working within the Crisis Center have extensive training on how to deal with trauma victims, as well as how to advocate for them.

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2-1-1 Hotline:

The 2-1-1 hotline is used for people who do not know where to go for a range of situations that they may be in. The goal of 2-1-1 employees is to provide information and resources for anyone that calls. The hotline receives on average 95,000 calls a year, of which 13,579 crisis calls and 75,206 information and referral calls are received. They also provide a specific service to military veterans, where they can speak to another veteran to get help. 2-1-1 is completely free and confidential, so anybody can use this service. This hotline is a huge asset to public health because people may not always know where to go if they need help, whether that help is mental, financial, or medical, and by having the resources made available to them by calling this hotline, it can greatly improve their current state.This service can especially apply to those who have been affected by a disaster and do not know what to do next. Many people who have been affected by disasters become depressed, sometimes suicidal, or feel a sense of loss, by calling 2-1-1, they can get emotional support as well as the resources needed to return to normal.

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Family Stabilization:

Another one of the services housed under the Crisis Center is family stabilization. This resource provides financial management classes for free to families who may not know how they will be able to afford to put food on their table, or those at risk for an eviction.  Family stabilization has provided 2,596 households with financial case management as well as advocacy. Also, they have aided 24,329 people at the travelers aid desk at the Tampa international airport.This service is especially crucial for vulnerable populations, such as those in a low socio-economic group. By providing services to this population, they become less vulnerable.

Transcare:

Transcare provides ambulatory services to over 36,000 911 calls a year. The difference between Transcare and regular ambulances is that they are specifically trained in mental health services along with first response medical training. Transcare has provided mental health transportation to 7,700 individuals and medical transportation to over 25,000 people. This provides a specific service to the vulnerable population that is those suffering from mental health issues. Regular emergency responders may not know how to properly handle a person who has a mental disability. It can be very damaging to a vulnerable person if the emergency responders respond to them in a forceful, or insensitive way.

Corbitt trauma Center and Sexual Assault Services:

The Crisis Center also provides services to victims of sexual assault, and they are a certified rape crisis center. On average the crisis center provides services to about 350 clients a year, and these services include, a rape kit exam, access to a victim’s advocate, who provides emotional support as well as community resources to help with anything the victim needs to aid in the healing process. Also, the advocate aids the client in any legal processes that may occur if they decide to report their specific case to the police. It is important to note that it is always up to the client if any legal action occurs, the crisis center will not report anything to the authorities without the consent of their client. Also, the crisis center houses the Corbitt Trauma Center which provides trauma centered therapy for a larger variety of crimes and trauma. The Corbitt Trauma Center has provided over 7,000 therapy sessions yearly. This is very important because in the case of any disaster, many people face trauma of losing many of their possessions, or even a loved one, and the Corbitt Trauma Center can help these individuals cope with their emotions so they don’t go through anything alone.

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What I learned from this experience…

I believe that all of the services provided by the crisis center are crucial to the community and provide very important services to vulnerable population that would otherwise not be able to afford. Part of our session with the crisis center had a survivor of sexual assault named Erin, tell us her story and how the crisis center helped her.

One of my classmates, Melanie Cruz, had this to say about her experience at the crisis center:

“ It was heartbreaking listening to Erin’s story, but just like she was able to find the crisis center, I hope others are brave enough to ask for help. Victims should feel safe and protected and the crisis center is the perfect location for this.”

In the end, the crisis center left us with the message that information is power and by knowing about community resources and spreading this information to the people we know, more people can reach out for help when they need it, and hopefully the place they go to is the crisis center. One of the largest goals of public health is to inform the public, and this center is doing an amazing job of fulfilling that goal.

Written by: Wilfredo Bautista Rivera, Undergraduate Student in the College of Public Health, University of South Florida

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