Highland Hospital treats more than 500 gunshot victims this year

Doctors at Highland Hospital – the region's premier trauma and gunshot medical facility – are currently treating three of the six victims injured during Oakland's school campus shooting, and are alarmed at the astronomical rise in gunshot wounds they have seen in the last five years. 

In 2018, Highland Hospital saw 278 gunshot wound patients, compared to 547 in 2021. This year still has three more months to go, but so far, the hospital has seen 514 gunshot wounds – just 33 shy of last year's total. 

"The numbers don't lie," said James Jackson, CEO of Alameda Health System. "We have seen almost a doubling in the past two years over the amount of violent victims of crime in our trauma center. As a resident of Oakland, I'll tell you, there was more respect for life growing up. There is a callous disregard for life that I see in the streets today, and I have an obligation to lean in and try to do my part." 

The data was released a day after six adults with some connection to the King Estate campus on Fontaine Street were shot and wounded for an unknown reason. No suspects have been arrested. Classes were canceled on Thursday as a result.

Eden Medical Center treated the other three victims. 

This data does not represent all incidents of gun violence in Alameda County, though Highland Hospital does treat many of the wounded.

Emergency Room Dr. Timothy Browder, the hospital's lead surgeon, noted that gun violence is a health inequity that disproportionately impacts low-income communities of color in Alameda County. The same areas that have the most gunshot-related emergency department visits also have the highest rates of stroke, diabetes and heart disease.

"If you look at COVID, it disproportionately affected underserved communities in Oakland," he told KTVU. "If you take that map, and overlay it with a map of violence, specifically gun violence, they are almost the same map. Gun violence also disproportionately impacts underserved communities, and the two of them are like gasoline and fire."

In addition to treating the wounded, Alameda Health System, which includes Highland Hospital, is working to prevent gun violence. 

For example, the health system has partnered with outside agencies and community-based organizations to deliver gun violence prevention and intervention services. 

The hospital system recently launched Trauma Navigator, a pilot program that connects patients at high risk of gun violence with preventative resources and offers mental health services to victims of gun violence.