DENVER (KDVR) — Doctors and nurses at Denver Health, the city’s busiest hospital, are treating more trauma patients now than in the last three years. Simultaneously, the city is seeing a spike in violent crime and is on pace to have more killings this year than any in the past decade.
Denver has had a mass shooting for the last three weekends. The latest was Sunday, when nine people were shot at a park near Interstate 25 and West Alameda Avenue.
All of those patients, along with one who was hit by a car while running from the gunfire, were rushed to Denver Health.
“We heard over one of the radios there could’ve been a shooting. We hear that a lot, so it’s not especially surprising,” said Dr. Morgan Eutermoser. “I heard screams coming from the ambulance bay. And that’s when we got our first patient.”
That patient was a 3-year-old girl. Of the eight other patients Denver Health treated from that shooting, five were younger than 18.
Eutermoser helped triage the patients and called for help from other departments. Thanks in part to their quick work, none of people who were shot died and none were ever in critical condition.
“It was done as well as it could’ve been done,” Eutermoser said. “We have trained for this. This is what we’re used to. We’re not used to this volume, but it showed we can handle it.”
But the violence, especially when children are the victims, does weigh on the medical staff.
“It’s not hard at the time,” Eutermoser said. “It’s the after that’s harder. It’s the going home that we all kind of struggle with. I totally was fine during the shift (Sunday), but when I went home I sat on my couch and had to sit there and think about it. It affects you in different ways.”
Violent crime in Denver is increasing. Through July of this year, 52 people have been killed, a 53 percent increase from last year. Also, 129 people have been shot and survived; that’s more than the last two years combined (for the same time period).
Denver police don’t know exactly why violent crime is increasing, but have said 422 guns have been reported stolen this year; that’s nearly 100 more than the same period last year.