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

Intervention effort targets gunshot victims who are age 17 or younger
The intervention effort targets gunshot victims who are age 17 or younger.
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 9:39 PM CST
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Gun violence is a public health epidemic that’s taking a devastating toll on our children, and discussing it should be a part of routine care.

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

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

“We have a problem with young people being victims of gunshots,” 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 avoid future misfortune.

“We’re taking a public health approach and we’re linking these patients and families to specific community resources that we are partnering with,” said Michael Nolan, pediatric 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 advance 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 injuries caused by motor vehicle collisions in our pediatric population.”

QUICK FACTS

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

“PROTECT is a new way of thinking about the relationships between juvenile patients, their families, healthcare providers and the community,” the program’s website states. “It is founded on the understanding that family intervention and unified community resources play a vital role in ensuring the health and well-being of our youth.”

The program aims to coordinate resources, heal youths affected by violence and “... foster families and community partners to advance equitable trauma informed care with violence intervention programs.”

PROTECT offers child care, crisis intervention, art therapy, housing services, shelter assistance, LGBTQA support, mentoring and educational and mental health services.

Brandon Lee, administrative assistant to Shreveport’s fire chief, said it can sometimes be traumatic responding to shootings. “Many of us do have some traumas from it. Mental health is a big thing being a first responder. So anything we can do to assist each other to deal with these types of traumas is what we need.”

Nolan explained the program’s intent.

“The goal of this program is to change the trajectory of these families, to help them be able to have the things that they need to not be in the situations that caused them to be injured by gunfire.”

Call (318) 626-3737 to learn more about the program.