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Duke University Hospital plans to launch new program to curb violent crime

Medical professionals at Duke University Hospital said while they provide treatment for patients in need, they also want to get into the work of prevention too.

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Sarah Krueger
, WRAL Durham reporter
DURHAM, N.C. — Duke University Hospital is getting ready to launch a new initiative aimed at addressing violent crime in Durham.

In July, the hospital is planning to launch a hospital-based violence intervention program. Medical professionals at the hospital said while they provide treatment for patients in need, they also want to get into the work of prevention too.

Dr. Lisa Pickett is a practicing doctor and treats gunshot wound victims at Duke University Hospital. She said it takes up to 100 medical professionals to treat one gunshot wound victim.

“We are doing a lot of things to try to prevent the next event of violent crime,” Pickett said. “The sad thing about this is that people tend to not be shot once but multiple times.”

In the last 12 days, Durham police said the city has had 16 reported shootings, including six fatalities. Durham leaders, including Mayor Elaine O’Neal, have discussed plans on how to address violent crime. On Tuesday night, O’Neal laid out her plan during his first State of the City address.

While Pickett she said she’s noticed an increase in victims treated.

“We’ve been tracking the number of victims of violent crime that come to Duke Hospital, in particular, our trauma center," Pickett said. "[We] have seen a steady increase over the last several years, and certainly a really pronounced increase in 2020."

As of April 9, city data shows Durham has had 205 shootings, 72 people have been shot and 14 of them were killed. The Bull City is on pace to set a new high for the number of shootings.

Pickett explained what she sees almost every day.

“It’s a young person generally,” Pickett said of the victims she treats. “Generally, a young male, and someone who is active and healthy."

“And now, their life has been changed forever. And even if they survive, many times, there is a combination long-term physical and emotional problems that relate to that.”

Pickett explained the intention of the new hospital’s new violence intervention program launching in July. She said the plan is to partner with analytics teams to dig into the numbers of the people that come to the hospital as victims of violence.

“We are certainly are happy to care for anyone that needs our care, but we would like to be put out of the business of needing to care for victims of violent crime,” Pickett said. “We’d like to prevent it in the first place so that our community is healthier.”

Pickett said the hospital often sees repeat patients. She hopes the new program can help turn lives around.

“We take this touch point with these patients as our opportunity to touch and change their lives,” Pickett said.

Duke University Hospital is expected to release more information about its violence intervention program in the coming weeks.

Gunshot wound victims treated

July 2021-March 2022
  • Duke Regional Hospital: 26
  • Duke University Hospital: 158
  • Total: 184
July 2020-June 2021
  • Duke Regional Hospital: 41
  • Duke University Hospital: 301
  • Total: 342
July 2019-June 2020
  • Duke Regional Hospital: 41
  • Duke University Hospital: 209
  • Total: 250
July 2018-June 2019
  • Duke Regional Hospital: 44
  • Duke University Hospital: 196
  • Total: 240
July 2017-June 2018
  • Duke Regional Hospital: 41
  • Duke University Hospital: 190
  • Total: 231
Data courtesy of Duke Health.