MAYWOOD, Ill., June 22 (UPI) -- Homicides in Chicago have risen about 35 percent in 2012 compared to this time in 2011, creating a burden on hospitals, a trauma surgeon said.
Dr. Thomas Esposito -- chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill. -- said 92 people were shot, 14 fatally, during the consecutive weekends of June 9 and June 16 in the third-largest city in the United States.
At least 240 people have been shot dead in Chicago since January compared to the 144 U.S. troops killed while on duty in Afghanistan in the same time period, Esposito said.
In the larger cities of New York and Los Angeles -- and nationally -- violent crime is down since January.
"As a level 1 trauma center, Loyola is used to caring for the worst of the worst, but things have escalated to the point where the worst now is often lying dead in the streets," Esposito said in a statement. "It's not just the weather that is heating up this public health problem -- the reasons are multifactorial."
Dr. Hieu Ton-That, a trauma surgeon at Loyola, said violence, like cancer, is a disease and needs to be treated with constant education, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.
"Since 2008, Loyola has partnered with CeaseFire, a national, non-government program dedicated to violence prevention," Ton-That said. "CeaseFire works! Their people are connected to the community and communicate effectively to help end violence. In cases of violence, Loyola chaplains connect with CeaseFire and they put the right members in contact with everyone involved to try to interrupt the cycle of violence."