A Surgeon Who Treated Victims Of The Walmart Shooting Said She Received Support From A Colorado Springs Colleague Who’d Just Been Through The Same Thing

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A memorial can be seen at the site of a deadly shooting at a Walmart on November 23 in Chesapeake, Virginia.
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Just two days ago, Dr. Jessica Burgess with a colleague in Colorado Springs who treated mass shooting victims at a gay bar. On Wednesday, the Colorado doctor returned the gesture as Burgess treated gunshot victims in another mass shooting, this time at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia.
"It's very disheartening that I'm in the same position now and my colleagues from across the country are reviewing me and our team," the acute surgeon at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, told reporters Wednesday afternoon. "It's discouraging, and it's tough when sometimes there's only so much we can do after the injuries have already been inflicted."
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On Tuesday night, a Walmart employee opened fire on his coworkers, killing six of them and injuring at least six others. It comes just days after a Colorado Springs gunman killed five people and injured 18 others at Club Q, a gay nightclub. Successive tragedies were a grim reminder that gun violence is a national epidemic.
Burgess told reporters that as a surgeon, what she enjoys most is taking care of people when they are needed most. But as a parent, spouse, and community member, it is heartbreaking to see this kind of gun violence. Burgess said she was the backup surgeon on call Tuesday night and was called when the hospital received reports of the mass shooting. Three people remain hospitalized, two of whom are in critical condition in intensive care.
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According to the American Public Health Association, gun violence is a public health crisis in the United States and the leading cause of premature death in the country, accounting for more than 38,000 deaths annually. As of Nov. 23 this year, at least 39,717 people have died from gun violence, and another 21,582 have died by suicide, according to the Gun Violence Archive. There have been 608 mass shootings so far this year.
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When health professionals called for gun control in 2018, the National Rifle Association tweeted to "stay in their lane." It's very much on their trail, however, due to the time, care, and resources they expend to save lives. More than 100 people -- many of them healthcare professionals -- are involved in treating a victim from the moment they are shot to the moment they are discharged from a hospital. Sometimes the process takes months.
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital is a level one trauma center, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Michael Hooper told reporters Wednesday, and it is prepared for incidents like the Walmart shooting.
"Unfortunately, we have to deal with such events very often," he said.
But it takes a toll.
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"It's always disheartening when you see unnecessary violence at this level," said Tracey Chandler, a clinical nurse at the hospital.
As news of the Walmart shooting broke, many on social media shared their fears of seeing another mass event with casualties. People had only begun to mourn the deaths at Club Q when another shooting made headlines. It sparked new calls to action and renewed despair at the number of lives lost.
Brett Cross, whose 10-year-old son Uziyah Garcia was killed in the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers, tweeted that every mass shooting takes its toll.
"I am deeply saddened to hear of the Club Q shooting," he tweeted Monday. "It takes a toll on me personally every time more people get their membership in this club that no one ever wants to be in. Every single one of the victims is some kid.”
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Maxwell Frost, who was recently elected the first member of Generation Z to Congress, tweeted that gun violence is "avoidable." The 25-year-old activist was national organizing director at March for Our Lives.
"DON'T BE DUMB FOR THIS," he tweeted. “6 people were shot and killed. This is avoidable. This is avoidable. This is a political failure. THAT'S NOT NORMAL."
Burgess, the Virginia surgeon, told reporters Wednesday that she and her colleagues are just beginning to process the past day's events.
"We want to do that," she said. "This is where we want to be, so we're proud of what we did last night. ... But it's a lot to process. These are people in our community whose lives were cut short the day before Thanksgiving, so it's heartbreaking."
More on this
An employee shot dead 6 people at a Walmart in VirginiaAde Onibada Nov 23, 2022
How a gunman destroyed a typical Saturday night at a gay bar and how people fought backPaige Skinner Nov 23, 2022

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