Health

PROTECT helps fight gun violence, a public health epidemic in Shreveport

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Gun violence is a public health epidemic that is taking a devastating toll on our children, and discussing it should be part of routine care.

That’s the premise of an in-hospital violence intervention effort at Ochsner LSU Health for gunshot victims who are 17 or younger.

On Tuesday, representatives from Protect Resources and Outreach Tools for Every Child and Teen spoke to members of the Broadmoor Neighborhood Association about the program.

“We have a problem with young people who are victims of gunfire,” said Bill Robertson, the neighborhood group’s vice president.

PROTECT connects victims undergoing hospital treatment and their families with community resources to help them recover and prevent future misfortune.

“We’re taking a public health approach and we’re matching these patients and families to specific community resources that we’re working with,” said Michael Nolan, childhood trauma coordinator for Ochsner LSU Health.

The program’s website says it “…shares a mission to use the teachable moment of a non-accidental violent injury to promote positive behavior changes. Our vision is to heal youth affected by violence, educate families and community partners to promote equitable trauma-informed care with violence intervention programs.

Nolan said the idea came about when they saw an increase in gun-related injuries among children. “2020 was the first year that firearm injuries overtook those caused by motor vehicle collisions in our pediatric population.”

QUICK FACTS

  • The number of violent firearm injury patients aged 17 or younger at Ochsner LSU Health in Shreveport has nearly doubled in the past two years (March 2019-March 20, 2020-21)
  • 74% of gun-related childhood trauma seen at Ochsner LSU Health in Shreveport was related to violence or illegal activity.
  • 17% of all firearm deaths in Louisiana between the ages of 0 and 14 occurred in the Shreveport-Bossier City area (Region 7).

“PROTECT is a new way of thinking about the relationships between young patients, their families, caregivers and the community,” says the program’s website. “It is based on the realization that family intervention and united community resources play a vital role in ensuring the health and well-being of our youth.”

The program focuses on coordinating resources, healing youth impacted by violence, and “… foster homes and community partners to promote equitable trauma-informed care with violence intervention programs.”

PROTECT provides childcare, crisis intervention, art therapy, housing services, shelter assistance, LGBTQA support, mentoring, and educational and mental health services.

Brandon Lee, administrative assistant to the Shreveport fire chief, said responding to shootings can sometimes be traumatic. “Many of us have had some traumas from it. Mental health is a big thing as a first responder. So anything we can do to help each other deal with this kind of trauma is what we need.”

Nolan explained the intent of the program.

“The goal of this program is to change the trajectory of these families, to help them have the things they don’t need in the situations where they were injured by gunfire.”

Call (318) 626-3737 for more information about the program.

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