FOX 32 NEWS - Gang retaliation is blamed for much of the escalation in Chicago shootings this summer.
When gang members are wounded but survive an attack, they pose unique problems for hospitals.
Doctors and nurses in the Emergency Room at Mount Sinai Hospital see victims of gang violence all summer long. They've even nicknamed the summer months, ‘the trauma season.’ But when they succeed in saving a gang member's life, there's another challenge: protecting the patient from another gang-related attack while the victim is recovering.
“I can't discuss the specifics of what we do here at Sinai, but we often change their name,” said Mount Sinai’s chief nursing officer.
That's right, to protect potential targets, hospital patients sometimes get new names. The chief nursing officer at Mount Sinai says one or two patients are admitted every week under phony names to prevent outsiders from finding them in the hospital. She asked that we disguise her identity, because in her practice at Sinai she's dealt with so many gang members.
“The fictitious name sits on top of the real name. so the billing and medical records are always there. It just kind of sits on top but we always know the real patients name,” the chief nursing officer said.
Another security measure here is the use of metal detecting wands to check visitors to the emergency room.
FOX 32: Do you find people sometimes carrying weapons into the hospital?
“They do, but I really think that hospitals are known as safe zones, so when anyone comes in here, they know they are coming in for a reason, to receive care, or to see someone who is receiving care,” the chief nursing officer said.
The hospital also offers password-protected systems to make sure strangers can't phone in posing as a relative to get access to a patient's status. There's also help for hospital staff who might fear for their own safety, or just wear down from coping with so many victims of violence and their families.
“We round on our caregivers often, to make sure that they're not stressed, beyond a certain point, which we call burnout. And that's always a topic of discussion,” the chief nursing officer said.
The chief nursing officer says the use of fictitious names has increased in recent years as there's been an increase in violence on the streets.