Helping Crime Victims Find Solutions

For more than 20 years,
Christine Ward has been helping survivors of violent crimes...

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An Artist with a Unique Canvas

Dr. Amardeep Singh views cardiology an art form - a place where innovation...

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Helping Crime Victims Find Solutions

For more than 20 years, Christine Ward has been helping survivors of violent crimes. "My heart goes out to people who have had terrible things happen in their lives," she explains. "You can't fix it, but you can help them navigate the aftermath."

Christine understands the challenges facing survivors of violent crime all too well... "My ex-husband tried to kill me. The case against him was problematic and I faced a lot of challenges along the way. He was eventually convicted, but it was very difficult."

Christine had originally planned to be a lawyer but eventually realized that what she really wanted to do was to help other victims of violent crimes navigate what can be a confusing and scattered system. "Most victims don't understand the legal system. It is confusing and scary. And often, these people are in need of emotional support as well. I wanted to find a way to get all of the resources available to everyone who needs them."

So Christine created iCAN - Crime Victims Assistance Network Foundation - a Sacramento-based organization whose mission is to support, educate and empower those impacted by crime. "We try to fill the gaps that exist in victim services," Christine explains. "iCAN provides services, free of charge, to victims of crime throughout California and across the country. This can include counseling, advocacy, legal resources and referrals - whatever a victim may need at that moment. Our primary goal is to connect victims with as many services available to them as we can; surrounding them with as much community support as possible. There are victims who are not aware of the DA's victim witness program or the state's victim compensation fund as well as the many community based programs that provide various types of aid. We want to make sure that in addition to our services, victims receive the additional help they need. Ultimately, if we can't help, we will try to put the crime victim in touch with someone who can."

iCAN operates with a team of three staff members and 20-25 volunteers and relies on grant funding and philanthropic support. This year iCAN received a $40,000 grant from Dignity Health as part of its Community Grants program. "The Dignity Health grant will help us to co-locate victims' rights advocates in two Sacramento area medical clinics. Through these locations, we are hoping to better reach the Southeast Asian and Iu-Mien population. We want to offer counseling, referrals and general support to crime victims living in these underserved communities."

For Christine, this grant represents one more step toward achieving her personal goal of connecting crime victims with the resources available to help them. Beyond serving as the Executive Director for the iCAN Foundation, Christine works with legislators, advocating for improved victims' rights and services. She also collaborates with law enforcement agencies across the country, improving communication with and assistance to victims of crime.

Christine is also happily married now and enjoys spending time outdoors and riding horses. "I am passionate about what I do. My life could have gone a lot of different directions but I am happy doing the work I am doing. I know there are glitches in the system and places where we are lacking in services and I want to be a part of the solution."

For more information on iCAN and the services they offer - and how you can help - visit their website.

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An Artist with a Unique Canvas

Dr. Amardeep Singh views cardiology as an art form - a place where innovation and attention to detail can yield miraculous results. Dr. Singh is an interventional cardiologist, using her artistic mind to help patients living with heart disease. As a little girl, Dr. Amardeep Singh dreamed of being a pilot or a veterinarian, but a frightening episode for her family led to a dramatic shift in her life plan. "When I was in college, my mom was diagnosed with a heart condition," she explains. "The first doctor she went to recommended a surgical procedure that had just a 50% success rate. We took her for a second opinion and that second doctor did a minimally invasive procedure that worked. That was more than 20 years ago and she is still doing great today! Seeing the impact that physician had on my mother's life changed the focus of my life."

Born in Toronto to parents of East Indian descent, Dr. Singh grew in Fairfield. While an undergrad at UC Davis, she pursued both her interest in science and her passion for art by doubling majoring in art and physiology. After her mother's heart scare, she began to see a link between art and cardiology. "I have always enjoyed art, especially acrylic painting and photography. I feel like the creativity and attention to fine detail that is necessary in art can also be found in cardiology... The innovation, the use of your hands, even the art of showing compassion to patients - it is all very complementary."

After medical school, residency and fellowships, Dr. Singh began seeing patients as an interventional cardiologist in Stockton. After a couple years, however, she and her husband relocated to Sacramento and began practicing with Mercy Medical Group and the Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute of Greater Sacramento. It is a move that has been gratifying both personally and professionally. "My husband is originally from Sacramento, so this is home for him. For me, being here presents many exciting opportunities. Physicians here are doing very innovative work and it is exciting to be a part of that. Personally, I also really enjoy the beauty of the open landscape here."

Although Dr. Singh does not have as much time as she likes for her art right now, she does make time for meditation and reading, something she encourages in her patients too. "Heart disease is the number one killer of women in our country," Dr. Singh says. "Women are less likely to take care of themselves because they are always in the caretaking role. But I tell my patients - if something feels off with your body, talk to your doctor about it."

Dr. Singh says part of the reason coronary disease is such a problem for women is because their symptoms are so different from the classic chest pain that is typically associated with a heart attack. "Women experience less classic symptoms - in fact, they may think they're suffering from the flu. They are much less likely to report any symptoms to their doctor."

Symptoms that can be associated with heart disease in women include:

  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, or upper back pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or heartburn
  • Sweating and dizziness
  • Unusual fatigue

In addition to knowing what heart disease symptoms can look and feel like, Dr. Singh encourages her patients to know their numbers. "Know what your cholesterol is and what your blood pressure is... Have a regular physical with your primary care doctor and get your blood work done regularly. And be active - try to walk every day. Your heart needs that exercise."

Good advice from a woman who appreciates the art of the human heart.

Learn more about Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute of Greater Sacramento and about two upcoming free heart healthy living events here.

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