Jan 31, 2023 Helping to Transform Trauma into Purpose

Lashawn Overton

When you look at Lashawn Overton, the first thing you’ll notice is a big, bright smile that exudes warmth and compassion. When she speaks, you’ll feel that same warmth and compassion, coupled with an intense passion and deep insight that seems to belie her youth. These qualities serve Overton well in her role as Trauma Patient Navigator for Jersey City Medical Center’s Project Hudson.

The Mission of Project Hudson at Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC)

Project Hudson—the “Hudson” stands for “Helping Us Deliver Strength in Our Neighborhoods”—was formed in 2018 by JCMC surgeon and Chief of Trauma Bruno Molino, MD, and Trauma Program Director Marissa Fisher, RN. According to Overton, the mission of Project Hudson, which is federally funded by VOCA (Victims of Crime Act) grants, “is to reduce the risk for those who've been injured by violence from being injured again, to provide support, to promote a healthier perspective and outlook on life and to give victims of interpersonal violence tools and strategies for success once they leave the hospital.”

Bruno Molino, MD
Bruno Molino, MD

Overton, who celebrated one year at JCMC in October, is clearly well qualified for her job. But her qualifications were not earned in a college classroom or a corporate training program. Overton’s experience comes from her own life, a life that has been far from easy.

Life Lessons

“My personal experiences have inspired me to want to help change the narrative for Jersey City,” says Overton. “One of those experiences was being incarcerated in 2010. I was released in 2012 and have not returned since. I’ve lost friends to gun violence and to the jail system. I’ve been shot four different times in my life. I lost both of my parents within 10 months. I’ve experienced depression, and with proper help and support I was able to overcome it.”

Overton believes the pain and loss she’s endured have given her both a desire and a platform to give back to her community.

A Day in the Life of a Trauma Patient Navigator

Part of Overton’s job is to serve as a role model and community liaison to people in the Jersey City community who have been or are in danger of being affected by violence. She connects Project Hudson clients to community resources, visits injured victims of violence at their bedside and helps them cope with the violence they’ve experienced. She not only addresses socioeconomic needs but promotes healthy choices. Overton also supports, advocates and provides intensive case management services for patients for up to six months after they’re discharged from the hospital.

Overton says that being able to work as a Trauma Patient Navigator is a blessing to her. “My goal, in the long term, is to expand my efforts to focus on violence prevention,” she says. “I love the work I do here. I’m so happy and grateful to JCMC for giving me this opportunity.”

To learn more about Project Hudson and JCMC’s Violence Intervention Program, call 201-213-4149.