Healing the deep wounds of violence

Laurie Punch, assistant professor of surgery at the School of Medicine


It takes more than a stitch to heal a bullet wound.

With the creation and launch this summer of the St. Louis Area Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program (STL-HVIP), a citywide network of hospital-based intervention and ongoing support, the St. Louis medical community is taking a significant step to help patients heal from acts of violence.

With 205 murders in 2017 — about 20 more than those tallied in recent years, and 94 percent attributable to firearms — St. Louis is experiencing an epidemic of gun violence. Homicide is the No. 1 cause of death for black males ages 15 to 44. There are many more who survive episodes of violence only to live in its shadow. In general, for every seven people injured by firearms in the United States, six survive. While loss of life is the most tragic outcome, those who survive such incidents live their lives with the weight and complications of often-terrible injuries. This is an enormous burden, disproportionately carried in St. Louis by its black community.

Read the full piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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