'All hands on deck': UChicago Medicine Trauma Center doctors brace for summer violence

Leah Hope Image
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Chicago trauma center doctors brace for summer violence
UChicago Medicine Trauma Center doctors are bracing for Chicago violence that could break out over Memorial Day weekend and throughout summer 2023.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There is never a time they are not busy.

And, there isn't a day the staff at UChicago Medicine's Trauma Center doesn't see the impact of gun violence.

"We know what's coming," said UChicago Medicine Trauma Center Founding Director Dr. Selwyn Rogers. "Unfortunately, it means death disability and sadness and occasionally, horror."

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They shared some of their video with ABC7. Since the trauma center opened five years ago, they have seen nearly 20,000 patients. As we approach Memorial Day weekend and summer, those working in trauma care brace themselves.

"When the sun shines, my heart gets heavy often, because I know people are going to be hurt," said UChicago Medicine Trauma Surgeon Dr. Priya Prakash.

When the trauma center opened, there were two violence recovery specialists. Now, there are 20 to support patients and their families, who are forever changed, so none of them return as victims of gun violence. This weekend, they will have double the staff.

"It breaks my heart there are communities that do not have the quality of life that many other individuals are afforded," Prakash said.

UChicago Medicine Lead Violence Recovery Specialist Christine Goggins began this work after her best friend, Blair Holt, was killed. She and the trauma surgeons urge true solutions to reduce gun violence.

"It's all hands on deck," Goggins said. "I just really want us to think creatively and collaboratively around, 'what else can we do?' I'm literally praying for peace in our streets, not only Memorial Day, but for the summer."

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Those three said they stay because they know there are more lives saved than lost, and they are hopeful.

"Let's focus on primary prevention. Let's prevent the bullet from touching human life," Rogers said.

But, those who work in trauma care are pragmatic, and are ready for the next patient.