New MUSC Hospital and Community Violence Prevention and Intervention Program Ready to Make an Impact

Lauren Hooker
July 07, 2021
Violence Prevention and Intervention Program team members
(from left to right) Donny Singleton, Keith Smalls, and Ronald Dickerson, Ph.D. are the newest team members in the MUSC Hospital and Community Violence Prevention and Intervention Program, spearheaded by trauma surgeon Ashley Hink, M.D. MPH

South Carolina has the 5th highest rate of firearm homicide across the U.S. Survivors, many of whom are children and young adults, face a life-long process of physical and emotional healing.

Now, with the new MUSC Hospital and Community Violence Prevention and Intervention Program team in place, dedicated staff will serve as a support system that extends beyond the patient's care at MUSC Health. The new program serves youth and young adult victims of primarily firearm violence treated at the MUSC Pediatric and Adult Level 1 trauma centers. Program Director Ronald Dickerson, Ph.D. MSW and violence intervention advocates Keith Smalls and Donnie Singleton will be providing support and assessment, and comprehensive wraparound services to address risks of violence and to promote recovery. The team will assist patients after they leave the hospital, connecting them to MUSC and community resources.

"The MUSC and Charleston communities are incredibly fortunate to have such a fantastic team working for our patients and families to reduce violence recidivism and improve outcomes for our patients," said Ashley Hink, M.D. MPH, who serves as the program’s medical director. "They bring forth expertise in social work, education, juvenile justice, mentorship, program development, and violence prevention work in the community. They are from the Charleston and North Charleston communities, and are dedicated to improving the lives of survivors of violence, and breaking cycles of violence."  A leading national authority on violence research, Hink serves with other leading experts on the ACS COT Injury Prevention Committee, and her special research interests focus exhaustively on injury and violence prevention. Through her research, ardent advocacy efforts and this novel prevention and intervention program, she and her team will work to reduce violent injuries and suicides. 

Meet the Team   

Program Director Ronald Dickerson, Ph.D. MSW

Ronald Dickerson Ph.D. MSW

Ronald Dickerson, Ph.D. MSW joins the MUSC Department of Surgery as the Program Director for the MUSC Hospital and Community Violence Prevention and Intervention Program. He will be providing wraparound services to patients and families, and coordinating activities of the team including case management, program evaluation and stakeholder engagement in the community.

Dr. Dickerson has years of experience as an educator. He served as the Clinical Program Coordinator for the Human Service Associate Degree Program at Trident Technical College, as well as the Department Head and Academic Program Coordinator-Human Services where his primary duties included course and curriculum development and development of online courses. He has also taught social work courses at many universities including the University of South Carolina and the University of New England, and most recently at Limestone University, where he served as an Associate Professor of Social Work.

Dr. Dickerson has worked extensively social work and program management. He previously served as the Program Director with the Florence Crittenton Program of South Carolina, working with young at-risk pregnant females. He was also a Mental Health Counselor with Berkley County Mental Health, providing counseling court- appointed youth offenders and clients, and helped start the Father to Father program, which helps men gain the skills and knowledge to be responsible parents.

Dickerson earned his Bachelor Degrees in Social Work and Psychology from Limestone University, a Master Degree in Social Work from the University of South Carolina, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Human Services with a Specialization in Social Work and Community Services from Capella University.

Violence Intervention Advocate Keith Smalls

Keith Smalls

Keith Smalls joins the MUSC Department of Surgery as a violence intervention client advocate. In his role, he will work with teens and young adults that experience injuries from community violence, providing mentorship, support and implementing wraparound service plans to help promote recovery and break cycles of violence utilizing services in the healthcare system and in the community.

Mr. Smalls is a native of North Charleston, and has dedicated his life to community service, criminal justice reform and mentorship after spending many years of his life incarcerated after an arrest at the age of 19, and suffering the loss of his 17 year-old son to gun violence in North Charleston . He served as a librarian and mentor while incarcerated, and after his release, Smalls started serving as a Community Representative for the Charleston County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC), a Victim Impact Panel speaker, and became Certified Juvenile Arbitrator for the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office Juvenile Diversion Program. He’s an executive board member for South Carolina for Criminal Justice Reform, a non-profit organization dedicated to achieving smart and creative criminal justice reform in South Carolina. He's also a member of the Tri-County Gun Violence Coordinating Council and is a frequent speaker on community issues including gun violence prevention, criminal justice reform, and grassroots community improvement. 

Mr. Smalls is also the founder and executive director of My Community’s Keeper Mentor Group, whose mission is to improve and enhance the quality of life from one community to another through mentorship, life skills training and revitalization projects. His desire to create a better world comes from his life experiences.

He was awarded his GED by the Gateway Job Corps and later attended Trident Technical College.

Violence Intervention Advocate Donnie Singleton

Donnie Singleton

Donnie Singleton joins the MUSC Department of Surgery as a violence intervention client advocate. In his role, he will work with teens and young adults that experience injuries from community violence, providing mentorship, support and implementing wraparound service plans to help promote recovery and break cycles of violence utilizing services in the healthcare system and in the community.

Mr. Singleton is extensively involved in the community, promoting efforts to reduce community and youth violence, and working as a community activist to create a positive, productive, and just community in his hometown of North Charleston. Singleton started the nonprofit organization North Charleston SC Youth Resistance, Inc., which has the mission to build strong individuals, helping them become aware of their true identity and breaking beyond stereotypes. The program encourages community unity, embraces a true family structure, and strives to make an everlasting impact for future generations to come. The organization provides resources and mentors that will empower the youth in the community to become well-rounded individuals, empowering them to reach their highest potential. Their motto is: Lead Us, Teach Us, Guide Us.

Mr. Singleton has managed Head Start programs throughout the North Charleston community, and led multiple outreach and service activities including an after school tutoring program in Greentree Apartments, served as a youth sports coach, and performed multiple community cleanups.

 

About the Author

Lauren Hooker

Keywords: General Announcements, News, Trauma, Faculty and Staff, Patient Care