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First Person: Dr. Michael Jimenez tries to coax gang members out of the life

by Erika Aguilar | First Person

Many of Dr. Michael Jimenez's patients at St. Francis Medical Center are victims of gang violence. Mae Ryan/KPCC

Michael Jimenez is a surgeon at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, in the heart of south Los Angeles.  St. Francis serves Compton, Watts, Paramount, South Gate, Whitter and other gateway cities. There's a lot of gang activity: Many of the patients Jimenez cares for enter the hospital's Level II trauma center suffering from gunshot or knife wounds. The 37-year-old Yale graduate — who grew up in Boyle Heights, El Sereno and Baldwin Park — believes that "good trauma medicine goes beyond just patching somebody up." Jimenez asks his patients about how and why they ended up in the hospital. He tries to get them to think about what they can do to avoid a return trip to the trauma center. He knows a few heart-to-heart talks during one hospital stay probably won’t turn someone's life around, but he says sometimes the second hospital visit might. He's fiercely dedicated to his work: "I plan to stay here until I can’t do this anymore."

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