Calculating the cost of Chicago violence

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014
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More than 80 people were sent to hospitals over the July 4 weekend with bullet wounds, for care that doesn't come cheap and is often paid for by the public.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More than 80 people were sent to hospitals this holiday weekend with bullet wounds for care that doesn't come cheap, and is often paid for by the public.

At Stroger Hospital, doctors are still recovering from the holiday weekend that brought well over a dozen gunshot victims to their trauma center. All Chicago trauma doctors are asking how much of this violence could have been prevented after handing over 80 shootings and 14 fatalities during a four day period.

Dr. Faran Bokhair, the head of Stroger's trauma unit, says he tries not to think about how much it costs while he is busy treating his patients.

Cook County says trauma care averages about $52,000 per person. That number is one of those ballpark figures that can be ten-fold more or ten-fold less depending on where gun shot is, who was injured and how long patient is in hospital.

The majority of Stroger patients are uninsured. A University of Chicago Crime Lab study puts a price tag on the total cost gun violence, and they are numbers the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence follows closely.

"The amount society pays for gunshot victims is extreme," says Colleen Daley of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. "I believe the number 2.5 billion to the city of Chicago every single year."

The cost breaks down to $2,500 per household, with the tab starting the second somone is shot.

"We are paying for everything from sheets covering bodies to rehab services," Daley says.

Daley says the cost of violence is a public health crisis that every Chicagoan should care about, regardless of what neighborhood they live in.

The Crime Lab says the cost of gun violence nationwide is about 100 billion. Besides health care costs, the amount includes intangibles such as loss of jobs, population or businesses as a result of gun violence.