“It’s all the years I’ve been up here seeing young kids get shot and die,” said Dr. Amy Goldberg, Chief of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care at Temple Hospital.
This was one of Dr. Goldberg’s reasons for creating Cradle to Grave, a program
that operates out of the hospital’s Trauma Bay and aims to educate young people about the real effects of violence and what it actually takes to rescue a punctured life on the operating table.
“I woke up one day realizing that as much as we may help [victims of violence]
medically – sew up their bowels and fix their injuries – we just sent them back on the streets and we weren’t doing
anything to help prevent these kinds of injures,” Goldberg said.
Scott Charles, who is now the trauma outreach coordinator, had been working with a non-profit organization and was bringing high school students through the hospital to give them a first hand look at the hard realities of the trauma unit.
Charles’s efforts really struck a note with Goldberg’s own realization, and that’s when the hopital created Charles’s position.
“We both had a vision and collaborated,”
Goldberg said.The program officially started in March 2006. Since then, Charles, Goldberg and their team have conducted 20 programs, and have had between 350 and 360 high school students experience the inner workings of the Trauma Bay.
Interested individuals contact Charles about bringing certain groups through the program, and under many circumstances it is local schools that are involved in Cradle to Grave. Charles noted that he has met with officials in the school district [of Philadelphia], raising interest and activity with the program through means such as these.
Cradle to Grave’s central narrative illustrates the scenario of Lamont Adams, a 16-year-old gunshot victim that died in the hospital two years ago with more than 20 bullet wounds in his body. As students follow Adams through his hospitalized experience, Charles explains in detail the hospital’s effort to save the boy’s life.
“Lamont Adams is representative of so many teenage victims that we could use,” Charles said. “The reason we use Lamont is because he was here two years ago, and he’s from the same place where many of our kids come from.”
“I think that a lot of kids that come through here can relate to Lamont,” said Heather Kulp, a clinical research nurse and a major facilitator of the program.
“A 16-year-old African American boy from a local neighborhood, raised by his grandmother” she said.
According to Charles, Temple Hospital has more gunshot and penetrating injuries than any other hospital in the state.
“If we’re going to provide quality service to this community, we have to go just beyond the clinical aspects, further than just patching up the wounds,” Charles said.
It’s that idea of community that Cradle to Grave illuminates. One could say the program aims to change the face of violence in Philadelphia entirely.
“When a kid gets shot in Philadelphia, you can bet that within 12 hours, there will be individuals standing on that corner where he was shot with candles and holding placards that say ‘Stop the violence,'” Charles said.
“For our kids growing up in the streets, when they see that, it’s a tremendous way to be immortalized.”
But that’s not the image Cradle to Grave is trying to create.
“I try to tell kids that this is not what violence looks or feels or sounds like,” Charles said.
“This is a snapshot of a moment in time and it’s removed from the actual violence itself.”
The program is not full-time and has operated somewhat inconsistently. In fact, for people like Charles, Goldberg and Kulp, the program exists on an after-hours basis.
“I carve out a couple days a week to do this program,” Charles said. “If you create a service that people want, they’re going to knock down your door.”
Cradle to Grave does not receive the funding that it would like.
“We’re exploring our options right now in terms of where money can come from,” Kulp said. “Eventually, when this program takes off, it will have its own budget and its own staff. A lot of government officials in the city are interested and realize the impact that this could have on the community, and once we show that this is an eye opening experience
– that it’s increasing awareness in terms of violence – it will get funded. There’s no way around it.”
T.C. Mazar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.