Dr. Burruss

Sigrid Burruss, MD, FACS, a trauma surgeon and Director of Trauma Prevention for the LLUH Department of Surgery

Loma Linda University Health has received a state grant of $5.1 million to help prevent violent trauma injuries in the city of San Bernardino and related increased rates of recidivism in the healthcare organization’s operating rooms since the pandemic.

The grant will help expand a Hospital Violence Intervention Program, which uses a multidisciplinary approach to help patients deal with and prevent circumstances that contribute to their continued trauma injuries, such as gunshot or stabbing wounds. The program combines the efforts of medical staff with trusted community-based partners to provide safety planning, services, and trauma-informed care to violently injured people.

The rate of penetrating injury at LLUH peaked at 17.5% in December of 2020 and is now down to 10%, still higher than pre-pandemic levels, the grant stated.

“To have a trauma patient come back and you recognize them as being one of your previous patients is really unfortunate,” said Sigrid Burruss, MD, FACS, a trauma surgeon and Director of Trauma Prevention for the LLUH Department of Surgery. “These increasing rates of violence have really highlighted the need for us to expand our approach to taking care of our trauma population, to not just be the provider of care within the hospital but trying to address why those injuries happened to begin with.”

Burruss said violence prevention specialists work with trauma victims before and after being discharged, offering case-management services to identify underlying needs, including services for substance abuse, alcohol abuse, mental health disorders, gang-related activity, or job training. LLUH is also working with community groups on the program, including SAC Health, Inland Congregations United for Change, Hope Culture, and Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy.

A similar program helped a Northern California hospital reduce recidivism of trauma injuries by 75%, the grant stated.

LLUH’s Trauma Center has been working with San Bernardino in the city’s Violence Intervention Program since 2020. Adult trauma activations in total at LLUH have remained consistently high at 2,750 in 2019, 2,642 in 2020, and 2,978 in 2021, the grant stated.

In 2011, San Bernardino was identified as the second poorest large city in the nation, with 34.6% of people living in poverty. Residents of the region face numerous challenges, including high crime rate, gangs, poverty, and lack of family-sustaining wage jobs — all of which are primary factors that contribute to the high violence rate in the city, the grant stated.

“It’s exciting to have received this grant because it’s the right type of initiative for our community,” Burruss said. “I’m glad the state of California has recognized that need and is willing to support us to make it happen.”

The grant is issued by the California Violence Intervention and Prevention from the Board of State and Community Corrections. It will be awarded over three years.