"More than 71,000 Americans survive gun injuries [a year] but are left to deal with the physical and psychological damage of such violence," Dr. Sheldon Teperman, director of New York City's busiest trauma center, Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, wrote in HHC Today, a publication of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp.
"Recently I addressed a meeting of fellow New York City emergency room doctors and trainees, and I asked them: 'Do you see what I see -- needless violence and loss of life every day?'" Teperman said. "The answer was a resounding yes."
Trauma centers have an important role to play in the reduction of youth violence, Teperman said. HHC's own Dr. Robert Gore, working in the Kings County Hospital Emergency Department, has designed a groundbreaking program to interdict youth violence at its core.
The program involves more than 30 volunteers -- interns, other doctors, medical professionals, social workers and many of Gore's friends -- who provide services to teenagers and young adults as part of out-patient care at Kings County Hospital and at four local schools. The program covers a lot of ground -- anger management, mediation, a form of martial arts called capoeira, meditation, identity exploration through art, mentoring and tutoring, Teperman said.
"Once someone is injured by violence, there is a strong chance it will reoccur," Dr. Eric Legome, medical director at Kings County Hospital, said. "Our job as doctors and healthcare providers is to do our best to prevent disease and injury."
At Kings County Hospital, youths who come into the emergency room with injuries related to violence are introduced to the program as part of their follow-up care, Gore said.
"They undergo a risk assessment that includes questions about their exposure to violence at home or at school, how they are performing in school, whether they are involved in frequent fights or arguments and whether they are living in poverty," Gore said.