Jefferson Surgical Solutions

Dr. Charles J. Yeo

I am writing this on the last day of November, 2021. This time of year is embedded in my mind. Just before my tenth birthday, on Friday, November 22, 1963, our 35th president, JFK, was assassinated in Dallas, TX. Sadness, shock, tears, and disbelief overtook my classroom. Suddenly, the power of firearms, and their destructive nature was real to a fifth grader.

Fast forward to 2021. The number 500 is a reality in Philadelphia. If you bat .500 in baseball you are an all-star. If you hit 500 home runs you have a place in Cooperstown—the Hall of Fame. What if your city exceeds 500 homicides by firearm? Such is the reality in Philadelphia in 2021. What if a co-worker at your hospital is one of the victims, shot in your own hospital?

Amidst the COVID pandemic we have another epidemic in America. Death by firearms. There are nearly 40,000 firearm-related deaths annually in the U.S. Over 110 victims per day. The U.S. firearm fatality rate has risen in recent years. The number of guns in America exceeds the number of people. Here at Jefferson, with the closure of Hahnemann Hospital, we have seen a sharp up-tick in patients being brought to our emergency room, victims of firearm violence. Today at the Oxford High School in Michigan a 15-year-old sophomore killed four fellow students with a handgun, and injured seven others.

Dr. Stanton Miller and other members of the Jefferson Center for Injury Research and Prevention (JCIRP) recently participated in a city-wide march from Amtrak’s 30th Street Station to City Hall, to raise awareness of the tragedy of firearm violence in our city. My wife and I participated, as did others from Jefferson, Penn, Temple and Einstein. A public health approach to prevent firearm-related injuries and deaths is much needed, and is underway. There are data-driven studies being conducted and published on the topic. JCIRP is involved and actively working on this topic. Our city is vibrant, diverse, historic, and an exciting place to live. Five hundred victims are far too many.

To learn more about the Jefferson Center for Injury Research and Prevention, please visit: Jefferson.edu/JCIRP