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PROTECT helps combat 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 a hospital-based violence intervention effort at Ochsner LSU Health for gunshot victims who are 17 years of age or younger.

On Tuesday, representatives from 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 who are 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 harm.

“We take a public health approach and we connect these patients and families to specific community resources that we partner 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 behavioral 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 surpassed injuries caused by motor vehicle collisions in our pediatric population.”

FAST FACTS

  • The number of violent firearm injury patients age 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 pediatric firearm-related trauma seen at Ochsner LSU Health in Shreveport is related to violence or illegal activity.
  • 17% of all firearm deaths in Louisiana between the ages of 0 and 14 were in the Shreveport-Bossier City region (region 7).

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

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

PROTECT provides 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 responding to shootings can sometimes be traumatic. “Many of us do have traumas from it. Mental health is a big thing to be a first responder. So anything we can do to help each other deal with these types of traumas is what we need.”

Nolan explained the show’s intent.

“The goal of this program is to change the trajectory of these families, to help them have the things 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.

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