“A big part of my role—in addition to setting up a
Level 1 trauma center—is community engagement,”
Dr. Rogers said. “I want to learn from the community,
the perspectives and challenges of its members, and to
find opportunities to create partnerships. I think this is
critical in addressing intentional violence and gun violence. How can we possibly fix a problem, if we don’t
get close to a problem? At the University of Chicago
Medicine, we’re not simply waiting for the trauma to
happen and then reacting to it,” he said.
Treating the root causes
Dr. Rogers is keenly aware of the importance of
responding to the underlying causes of violence rather
than focusing on the violence itself. For him, it’s a personal issue that began one night when he was a junior
faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
“This particular night I was on call, a 28-year-old
African-American man came in who had been shot
in the back of the head, and it was pretty clear that he
was brain dead from the initial exam. There was no
brain activity, but he still had a pulse and he still had
blood pressure. As we waited for the family to arrive,
I found myself struggling with how to explain brain
death. It’s not a concept everyone is familiar with, and
there are cultural and religious beliefs that support
the idea that if the heart is beating and blood is flow-
ing then the individual is still alive. So, I was trying to
work through my mind, what analogy, what approach,
should I use to explain to this mother what brain death
was,” Dr. Rogers said.
When the victim’s mother and his young daughter
arrived in the intensive care unit, the mother listened
attentively to Dr. Rogers’ explanation of her son’s situation. The mother’s demeanor remained self-contained,
and she responded by asking if her son’s daughter (her
granddaughter) could see him one last time.
“So, I prepared them both the best that I could. I
told them the son would be sleeping, that he would
Dr. Rogers said he intends to launch a
“listening tour,” visiting community
centers, churches, and other public
venues to learn how the new ED
and trauma center at UCM can
better serve the local community.