COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL)— Nearly every day WRBL reports on violent crimes happening in the community. According to the FBI, a violent crime can be one of the following: a homicide, rape, robbery, or aggravated assault. But what does the aftermath of those crimes look like?
WRBL spoke with the frontline workers who care for these victims and their families at Piedmont Columbus Regional.
Kailey Stone, RN, has been working in the emergency room for about a year and a half. She says she sees roughly 100 patients check in during a ‘good’ shift.
“I’ve seen more drug abuse recently, a lot more shootings going on, more than what we would like,” Stone said.
Episode 1: Kailey Stone, RN
In 2022, the Columbus Police Department investigated 640 violent crimes according to their annual report. The police department says most of those victims are sent to Piedmont Columbus Regional.
“It can be nerve wracking, but when you have the patient lying there and fighting for their life, all of that goes out the window and you’re solely focused on a patient’s life and none of that matters. It’s like another day-to-day patient,” Stone told WRBL. “Sometimes it’s very emotional. Sometimes it’s hard to take care of. Sometimes patients humble me, and that’s all in the process of working as a nurse.”
In addition to Columbus victims, Piedmont Columbus Regional services patients from areas in both Georgia and Alabama.
Director of Emergency Services, Jack Rodgers, says this summer the trauma center set records.
Episode 2: Jack Rodgers, Director of Emergency Services
“Overall, our number of trauma cases over the last three or four years has increased every year. In fact, July of this year was our highest single month volume of traumas. That’s not a record we like to have or ever want to break again,” Rodgers continued to say they saw upwards of 200 traumas in the ER that month.
Not all of those are victims of violent crimes. However, this July the Columbus Police Department opened investigations into five murders, three rapes, 19 robberies, and 57 aggravated assaults, all violent crimes.
Stone shares what helps her mitigate the traumas she comes face to face with every day.
“Having a strong support system is probably the best thing that we could have at this hospital, especially in our ER, because we had so many dramas, so many emotional roller coasters. And to have that support system here is our number one goal. And that’s what we have,” Stone Shared.
For the nurses and doctors who aid those victims daily, it takes a team. One major player on that team, the Pastoral Services Department who is only one call away.
“The answer we always get is, ‘I’ll be right there.’ To be able to provide those individuals to come in and once things calm down a little bit, pull the staff aside, spend some time talking to them, letting them express their feelings, cry if they need to, and then give them a safe space to kind of step back and gather the thoughts again and then get right back to work,” Rodgers said.
With a rise in violent crimes coming into Piedmont Columbus Regional; the Pastoral Services Department has been making their rounds comforting staff, conducting counseling sessions, holding debriefings, and offering support.
Senior Chaplain Marlon Darnell Scott Sr. says anytime there is a trauma that comes into the ER, he gets in touch with administrators and leaders to decide the best course of action.
Episode 3: Marlon Darnell Scott Sr., Senior Chaplain
“When I’m called in the staff, they really feel that spiritual support. And it’s very important for us to come in and just make them feel like they’re not alone and that I’m praying for them, that they do have the spiritual backing,” Scott Sr. said. “It’s a quite an advantage because a lot of corporations don’t have this added spiritual component.”
Scott Sr. says since COVID, between 50-75 patients and staff members request his services weekly.
“I think that’s the reason they come back and do it again another day. You know, it’s the old adage, I guess even a dog knows not to come back when they get whipped so much. If you use that mindset and you think, ‘why do these nurses come back every day knowing what they’ve been through the day before?’ It’s because they have a heart to do that and they have the resources available to be able to talk through things when they need to and then get right back to work,” Rodgers said.
Scott Sr. reports a chaplain’s greatest tool often boils down to the ministry of presence.
“A lot of times with the things, the level of trauma that we see, there are no words to express. But just somebody being there and providing that support, it means everything,” Scott Sr. told WRBL.
In addition, Piedmont Columbus Regional has several Behavioral Health resources available to all faculty and staff.
“Piedmont is great with having a plethora of resources, 1(800) numbers where you can call and actually talk to somebody. And the good thing about that is our resources are ever expanding,” Scott Sr. said.
More than 20 wellbeing resources are provided to employees, to support their behavioral, physical, and mental health, some available to their families as well.
WRBL wants to take this time to thank all of the frontline workers, support staff, and first responders who risk their lives and mental wellbeing every day to keep the community safe.