Mid-South hospitals brace for summer surge in gun-related violence

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 10:57 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Regional One Health frontline workers are being put to the test as ‘Trauma Season’ begins.

This is a time when hospitals handle an increase in severe and gun-related injuries as warm weather approaches.

“Regional One being the only trauma center in the area, we see the worst of the worst and the most gunshot wounds of any hospital around,” said Joshua Dugal, Regional One Health’s Trauma Program Manager at the Elvis Presley Trauma Center.

Dugal said the hospital sees two-thirds of gun-related injuries occur during the second half of the year – beginning in the summer months.

At this time last year, Regional One treated 570 gun-related injuries.

That number has risen to 587 this year. On track to surpass 1400 in total the hospital treated last year.

“Things are changing, now we’ll have multiple patients that will come in at once, and people are shot many more times, and so it becomes quite challenging,” said Dugal.

The influx of gunshot victims combined with trying to fill staff shortages has become difficult.

Not to mention, Dugal said there’s one aspect of the job that NEVER gets easy.

“Is having to tell a family member that their family member hasn’t survived a bullet-related injury,” said Dugal.

Using a program called Prescription for Change, Regional One Health says it’s taking steps to reduce violence outside the operating room to meet with victims of gun-related injuries.

“We show up and we offer a caring voice and caring hand. What we wanna do is do fairly intensive case management with them and offer wraparound services that are available in the community,” said Dugal.

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