Temple University Hospital's trauma outreach coordinator Scott Charles wants to do everything for young gunshot victims. Keeping them from returning to the emergency room is a good start.
"Violence is all around him," Charles says. "There's nobody left on his block. They're either in prison or dead. His block has been obliterated."
Charles says victims may feel like trembling, but manifest it in other ways. "Do you tremble at the corner store or do you walk in there hard as hell? You either hit back or you fold, and this kid is doing what we wish more would do--fold."
Before he leaves the room, Charles gives him his cell phone number.
"I want to remind him of what we talked about in this moment," he says.
But for 17-year-old Ronald, it's too late.
Charles has just learned that Ronald, shot last June when his program was brand-new, returned to the hospital over the weekend, DOA from multiple gunshot wounds.
Everywhere Charles goes doctors and nurses ask if he heard about Ronald.
"Yeah, I heard," he snaps.
"I feel like people are looking at me," he says. "Like, why didn't you catch him?"
Charles wants to develop more programs, to expand Cradle to Grave into a full curriculum, comparing it to antiviolence education in public schools, and he's been working with researchers at St. Joseph's University to measure whether a window of opportunity exists at all.
But at this moment, he admits his job is overwhelmingly difficult, and if he's not careful, his own window of opportunity will close.
"How do you get your arms around it?" he asks of the city's violence epidemic. "It's like digging a hole in the sand. And it's by nature going to get worse. So how can we solve it? Somebody tell me."
Charles does know at least one thing for sure: "If we can't find a way for them to get more help on the outside, they're just going to come back to us."
Kia Gregory (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes the 'Round About column.
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