This letter is to protest the sensationalistic tone of Louis Sahagun’s story about gang members in the spinal injury service at Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center (Dec. 2). It is true that a significant number of our patients are victims of gang violence. However, the portrayal of the staff as “overwhelmed” and the implication that gang warfare is an ongoing threat on the hospital grounds is a distortion.
In speaking with the reporter, I emphasized the fact that most patients are not in severe psychological distress and that only a fraction become suicidally depressed or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. When specifically questioned about real or threatened gang violence on the ward itself, I could recall only one or two minor incidents in the last eight months.
In assessing new patients who are admitted with gunshot wounds, I am not concerned (as I was quoted as saying) that “someone is going to come in and kill them.” Your reporter’s insistent search for violence in our midst ignores the most compelling reality. Many of our patients transcend the trauma behind their disabilities and go on with their lives, using their minds and their emotional skills to survive.
LISA GOLDEN, Clinical Psychologist
Spinal Cord Injury Service
Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center