Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport develops violence intervention program to help child victims of trauma

Dr. Navdeep Samra speaks on PROTECT Program with LSU Health Shreveport.
Dr. Navdeep Samra speaks on PROTECT Program with LSU Health Shreveport.(KSLA)
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 3:27 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The names of teens slain in Shreveport are still at the front of many resident’s minds, as the continuous shootings affect the victim’s families and the community.

Trauma Medical Director for Ochsner LSU Health Dr. Navdeep Samra has treated many patients under the age of 15. Some of which, he was unable to save and cannot forget.

“When a child comes in and you’re not able to save it, immediately the thought goes back to your own child,” Dr. Samra explained.

He said in many of these instances, the occurrence is the start of a cycle that could lead the survivors back to the emergency room.

“We do see that, and that’s the key to identifying, again, why they’re coming to the same behavior again. Injury prevention will be very key in dealing with these patients,” Dr. Samra explained. “It could be high-risk behavior, it could be gunshot wounds, knife stab wounds.”

The most recent data from the hospital reports 28 children all under the age of 15 were treated for gunshot wounds at Oschner LSU health in a single year.

Dr. Samra hopes to break the violent cycle for victims of trauma. Oschner LSU Health has developed the PROTECT Program for victims of trauma under the age of 18 that they treat. The program offers resources like foster families and connecting community partners to prevent children from falling back into the cycle of violence.

Hospital officials note more than 25% of the child trauma patients treated at Oschner LSU Health are there because of firearm-related incidents.

Dr. Samra also discussed how doctors and other staff handle the initial shock of treating patients.

“There are some other folks that just go numb. That is the scary part. They just don’t respond. That is their defense mechanism,” he said.

The hospital has resources in place to help doctors, staff and students deal with that trauma.

Shreveport City Councilman Jerry Bowman is often on the frontlines in the fight against violence in the community. He said he struggles to explain what is happening to his own child.

“There’s a six-year-old at my home right now that I, that’s where my mind went to. That’s usually where it goes when there’s a shooting of a young kid. I take it home and I take it personal,” he said. “I can only just empathize with the families that do and that’s why I beg and plead over and over with other people. If you see something go ahead and say it.”

Medical professionals say Oschner LSU health treated 470 people aged fifteen and older in a year for gunshot wounds. Just four days ago, 15-year-old Ja’tyon Dillard Was shot and killed in Shreveport on Jewella and West 70th street.

“I look at what I have at home, I look at my neighbors’ kids, I look at my co-workers’ kids. That’s where my mind goes, and my mind, the frustration grows just more and more when I see something like that happening, again that’s the reason I take it personal. I just, I couldn’t imagine having to sit up at a hospital or be in an ambulance with mine,” Bowman revealed.

Shootings are not the only violent crimes the city tracks. Shreveport reports from January of this year through March, there have been 149 aggravated assaults, 98 cases of aggravated battery and 13 homicides. These statistics are down from this time last year.

Podcaster Calvin Hamilton grew up in Shreveport and has witnessed the “street life.”

“I remembered the days where living in Woodlawn Terrace and Republic Bel-Air, and my mom making us sleep on the floor because she’s scared of stray bullets,” he recalled.

He said it’s a life he believes many teens still live now.

“I think if more influences are available in Shreveport from people who used to be like them, then I think it will make more opportunities for them for the violence to slow down and that these children would have an opportunity to live past 17,” he said.

Councilman Bowman is encouraging citizens to be more comfortable in believing in the public safety system, and ask for resources like the ring cameras that are offered by the Caddo Parish Commission.

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