NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Members of the trauma team at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, all dressed up in orange, took a moment to recognize the impact gun violence has had on communities here in Hampton Roads.
June is Gun Violence Awareness Month which is why they wore orange in support of the victims of violence-related injuries they treat every day.
Jay Collins, MD, chief of trauma at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and professor of surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), says treating patients at home is necessary to prevent future incidents.
“Violence is a disease, just like heart disease or anything else and when somebody comes in after being stabbed or shot, we can fix them up and recover, but we send them right back to the same environment,” he said.
The team says they felt the best way to care for patients once they’re discharged would be to develop a program addressing issues in the communities they’re coming from.
Stephen Williams says that’s when the Foresight Program was born and he’s been the team coordinator since March 2020.
“If we address some of the social needs and some of the things that they might be in need of, maybe it can turn them on a different path or deter them from participating in violence any further,” he said.
During the pandemic, the trauma program saw an increase in violence related injuries.
Collins says he hopes members of the Foresight Program can minimize these injuries by returning to community work soon.
“I think ideally some of our team can actually go out to the community, go out to some of these, family homes and have some kind of discussion or effect there,” he said. “I think that will be much, much more powerful.”
For Williams, who was born and raised in Portsmouth, working to improve the communities he’s from is personal.
“The highest number of patients we probably have are from Portsmouth and from Norfolk,” he said. “So, to be able to be a part of assisting and making some changes in the community has been fantastic.”
Staff say the most important takeaway when it comes to treating victims of gun violence is understanding the role a community plays in the healing process.