LA Times Looks At Innovative Ways Detroit ER is Trying To Stem Violent Crime

Los Angeles Times

Kurtis Lee, LA Times national correspondent

The problem of violent crime in a city like Detroit seems almost hopelessly complex as it spreads across the city’s 143 square miles.

Currently in Detroit, there is one place that brings together most people who are being affected by this violence and works to address this problem head-on: emergency rooms.

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with Los Angeles Times National Correspondent Kurtis Lee, who recently spent some time at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Northwest Detroit for a recent article titled, “In Detroit’s busiest ER, a man with his own dark past tries to halt a cycle of violence.”

It looks at the city’s struggle to deal with violent crime and what some medical professionals are doing to try to address it. That includes acknowledging that this is a public health crisis and should be treated as such.

Henderson also speaks with Dr. Tolulope Sonuyi, the founder of Detroit Life Is Valuable Every Day (D.L.I.V.E.), an ER physician at Sinai-Grace who is one of the medical professionals attempting to break this cycle of violence and improve the futures of gun victims.

As Lee notes, he has covered gun violence since the Aurora theater shooting in 2012, analyzing the problem of gun violence as an epidemic. Previously, he has written articles specifically looking at the political perspective as well as the victim’s perspective, and for this piece, he wanted to understand the perspective of an ER doctor, “someone on the frontlines that is battling gun violence day in, day out.”

Originally, my mindset was that this story was going to be the profile of an ER doctor,” Lee states. “What I came away with was a story that really hit on humanity.”

In Lee’s initial interviews with Dr. Sonuyi, he learned D.L.I.V.E.’s work at Sinai-Grace Hospital takes a “holistic approach” that collaborates with “violence intervention specialists who have lived lives in Detroit and on the street and have seen and experienced violence first hand.”

As Lee explains, these specialists work with young victims “to become a part of their life and possibly shift the course of a life.”

In explaining the work of the D.L.I.V.E. program, Dr. Sonuyi states that when a young victim comes into the ER, it is a “teachable moment” where D.L.I.V.E. has an opportunity in “getting them to understand the gravity of what’s happened and an opportunity to be able to engage in some options to change the course from what may have lead them there in the first place.”

We look at the trauma recidivism rate as our primary objective,” say Dr. Sonuyi, along with preventing the risk of incarceration, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and depression and increasing the rates of housing, education, and employment.

As of now, since we launched in April 2016…nobody has been re-injured,” says Dr. Sonuyi. “We want to promote healthy outcomes, and that means getting people to be healthy and to live and to not be re-injured again.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: Courtesy of DMC Sinai Grace

This post is a part of How's Detroit Doing?.

With voices, data, news, and experiences, WDET is answering the question "How's Detroit Doing?" Find a collection of responses at howsdetroitdoing.org. If you have a question about how Detroit's doing, ask it here.


Support for WDET's work with The Detroit Journalism Cooperative comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.

  

 

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