minneapolis , The pandemic took a real toll on our healthcare workers. But right now, another public health crisis just as dire has loomed.

Last year alone, Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis treated more than 1,500 shooting victims. Its average is four per day. 85 percent of them are now alive.

“What you’re seeing is young, previously healthy people in pain and suffering and scared,” said Dr. Jim Miner.

“There’s no child out there that doesn’t do something that doesn’t impact you,” said Dr. Ashley Bjorklund.

“This can be devastating and heartbreaking,” said Dr. Kofi Fosu.

“I feel like the general public doesn’t realize how bad it is,” said nurse Daniela Morales.

“To me, this is a public health emergency,” said nurse Evan Trevin.

These health workers regularly check the prices of pills.

It’s lights and sirens when a call comes in for someone who has been shot.

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“They’re very fast. They’re fast-moving, fast-acting,” said Angela, a paramedic with Hennepin Emergency Medical Services.

Hennepin EMS transports a victim to Hennepin Healthcare, the state’s busiest level-one trauma center.

“They have a team waiting for us. This is a quick action,” Angela said.

Care begins at the main door, called the stabilization or stab room. This is where doctors and nurses treat hundreds of patients suffering from gunshot wounds.

“Most days we see someone who has been a victim of gun violence. And it ranges from non-fatal, serious wounds to multiple gunshot wounds to the head and chest. And it’s tragic. It can be prevented. Could. This is death and destruction of young, healthy people who don’t need to die,” said Miner, who is chief of emergency medicine.

These work to stabilize the patient.

“If someone is shot in the torso or head or even upper limb, surgeons are on their way immediately and we’re out there trying to get IV access, to figure out if What’s happening is to find out where they’re bleeding,” Miner said.

“What does full speed look like?” investigative reporter Jennifer Mayerle asked.

“It’s really very fast. Our immediate thought is to have multiple people with a lot of skills move as fast as they can and do everything at the same time. Seconds make a huge difference,” Miner said. Said.

That’s when a trauma surgeon like Fosu comes into the picture.

“Bullets are unique in that the injuries, the cause of them, can be unpredictable. High-impact gunshot wounds – they can be unpredictable,” Fosu said.

He takes a patient to the operating room.

“We do a significant amount of our work in the OR. Our goal is really to see what’s injured. Stop the bleeding. Stop any contamination. Ultimately we want to save a life,” Fosu said.

Trevin, an emergency department nurse, is in the middle of constant trauma care.

Trevin said, “It’s mind-numbing to people who don’t normally watch it. Mind-numbing to me who has watched it for the last 20 years and I have to put it aside because I don’t know What’s going to happen next?”

He has found that parenthood changes when he needs to stop.

Trevin said, “I have to step away when kids come near my kids. I know situations can be turned around and I can be in their situation with my kids.”

This is the harsh reality of who is being affected in the community.

Bjorklund said, “There’s something special about taking care of children affected by firearms. The fact that I even had to say a statement like that.”

Bjorklund is the medical director of the pediatric ICU.

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“Some of these children are on ventilators and certainly there are children where, we think, they survive initially and progress to needing assistance with care at the end of life,” Bjorklund said.

There is a toll in this.

“We’re trained to work through it, but in pediatrics, I think we have to consider the care that’s being provided and how it’s affecting us,” Bjorklund said. “Be very intentional about taking the time.”

And how it changes how they manage at work and at home.

“More stress, right? I need to spend more emotional time recovering from the care I provide to patients on a daily basis. And I lack a sense of security for my own children. Before I go home I parent ‘Do you have firearms, are they stored properly?’ This is a common lesson,” Björklund said.

Pediatric nurse Daniela Morales says she sets strong boundaries with family and friends.

“If there’s any kind of unnecessary tension or drama, I have to draw the line. I feel like I can’t take it anymore,” Morales said.

This life-saving work comes with difficulties.

“It’s hard to see people get hurt so often and it’s hard to continue to suffer the loss of all those lives that are needlessly destroyed,” Miner said.

“You see this violence day in and day out and sometimes you just have to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing,” Fosu said.

These days there’s always another call, another gunshot wound patient coming for help, another running for the paramedic.

“You can be frustrated with society, just the recklessness of what people are capable of doing to other people. It affects everyone. If you’re not dealing with it in a healthy way, it eats away at you.” And you won’t be able to stay in this area at all,” said paramedic Angela.

Hennepin Healthcare has what is called a critical incident assistance team. It provides immediate emotional support after a traumatic experience and provides support for hours after a stressful event. Additionally, there are regular meetings for units that have a higher volume of incidents, such as the emergency department and the pediatric intensive care unit.


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