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Dr. Ann Kuhn with U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine and Community Leaders

CHKD’s Trauma Program Receives VHHA Grant to Help Children Injured by Violence

Author: CHKD Web Team
Published Date: Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The words “gunshot wounds” and “children” don’t belong in the same sentence, but kids with injuries caused by gun violence are treated on a regular basis by our trauma team at CHKD.

Their stories are heartbreaking: A baby caught in the crossfire of a shooting. A teenager paralyzed by a bullet in the neck. A 5-year-old shot while playing outside.

In some cases, children have found unsecured guns in their homes and accidently shot themselves or a brother or sister. Some were inside their homes when a bullet came through the window. Others got caught between a shooter and the intended victim. Some children survive their injuries, but some do not.

In May 2019, the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services awarded the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association Foundation a grant to implement Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs in select Virginia hospitals to help survivors of violence and to help prevent more violence from occurring. CHKD’s trauma program received grant funding in June 2021 to develop a program in our region to help these children of violence, their families, and the communities where they live.

The goals are to break the cycle of violence. Reduce “re-injury” rate. Strengthen neighborhoods. Give families resources to keep them safe. Help what’s known as “second victims,” – the family members, friends, neighbors, and other witnesses of violence in homes, schools, workplaces, or on the street.

“Many of our victims are innocent bystanders, the ones getting in front of the parent or sitting in their mom’s lap,” said Dr. Ann Kuhn, medical director of CHKD’s trauma program. “Or children who find a gun that isn’t properly stored.”

It’s a phenomenon seen across the nation, according to a study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics, which examined the number of firearm injuries in children younger than 12 during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic and compared to a six-month period before the pandemic. The study found an increase not only in children being injured by gunfire, but in children hurting others with guns.

Cathy Peterson, RN, CHKD’s trauma program manager, and Jill Layne, LCSW, CHKD’s social work manager, will hire two people with the grant money, a program coordinator and a case worker. The case worker will go into the community and follow up with families after a patient has been discharged. CHKD is already participating in community roundtable discussions on ways to reduce violence in our community.

Twenty-one children were admitted to CHKD in 2019 with gunshot wounds. By 2020, that number had increased to 37. In the first seven months of this year, there have been 24 patients admitted to CHKD with a gunshot wound.

The trauma team also treats children who have suffered wounds from other types of violence, such as stabbings and physical assaults. CHKD provides a multidisciplinary approach that includes surgeons, emergency and acute care specialists, social workers, chaplains, therapists, child life specialists, and rehabilitation services.

About CHKD Web Team

About CHKD Web Team  The web team at CHKD includes members of the marketing and public relations team who create digital-based content to support and enhance the organization's online profile and communications through content creation and development of its public website, intranet, and social media.