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Chicago hospital trauma unit doctors say declaring gun violence a public health crisis is overdue

Chicago hospital trauma unit doctors say declaring gun violence a public health crisis is overdue

Chicago hospital trauma unit doctors say declaring gun violence a public health crisis is overdue

CHICAGO (CBS) — He US Surgeon General‘s statement of Gun violence is a public health crisis. It’s no surprise to people who work in the emergency room at Stroger Hospital of Cook County.

Doctors at the hospital treated 771 gunshot victims last year and its trauma center is one of the busiest in the country.

Doctors at Stroger Hospital considered that the declaration of a public health crisis would take a long time to come. They also emphasized that gun violence is felt not only by the shooting victims they deal with directly, which is the focus they say the advisory addresses.

“Cook County has the busiest trauma center in the United States,” said Dr. Claudia Fegan, medical director of Stroger Hospital of Cook County. “We were the first trauma center in the United States.”

The issue is personal for Dr. Fegan, who has done more than dedicate her life to helping trauma victims. She grew up on the city’s South Side and her own experiences with gun violence paved the way for her spending decades working in the trauma center.

“My parents were injured by gun violence when I was a child. They were attacked at gunpoint. My father was shot,” Fegan said. “There was a trauma unit that saved his life.”

Your take on the historic advisory issued Tuesday by the U.S. surgeon general?

“It’s something that should have been done a long time ago,” Fegan said.

More people are shot in Chicago than in New York and Los Angeles combined.

“This week we lost a 7-year-old boy to gun violence,” Fegan said.

The advisory notes that more children between the ages of 1 and 19 die in the United States from firearms than from anything else. This is one of the reasons why treatment at Stroger goes beyond medical care.

“I’ve known grandmothers who were sitting on a park bench and were shot while waiting for the bus,” said Andy Wheeler, a clinical social worker with the Healing Hurt People Chicago team. “I’ve known kids who were shot in the back seat of their car while driving to school.”

Wheeler steps in to work with gunshot victims and their families as they receive treatment here at the hospital.

“Recognizing that gun violence is a public health issue is one step in the process of working with patients as they recover from their traumatic injury,” Wheeler said.

The US Surgeon General is calling for the US to ban automatic rifles, introduce universal background checks, pass laws that would restrict their use in public spaces, and penalize people who do not store their weapons safely. in the historic notice.

But that is not all. The notice also says more money needs to be put into firearms research to understand how to reduce and prevent gun violence, something people at Stroger Hospital’s trauma unit say will make a big difference in Chicago.

“There has been so much pressure against this that it has prevented us from doing public health research to find out what works and what doesn’t,” Fegan said.

The CBS 2 investigative team analyzed more than 50 years of data and found that while the numbers are alarming today, the early 1990s were the worst for Chicago in terms of homicides.