First Person

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

Dr. Jimenez St. Francis Hospital

Mae Ryan/KPCC

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

Dr. Jimenez St. Francis Hospital

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Dr. Jimenez talks with gunshot victim Clyde Baldwin, a patient who has been shot four times since 2008. "The other three times, I was out there gangbanging," said Baldwin. He said he has since left the gang life, and that in the most recent episode, he was in "the wrong neighborhood" when "fools come through shooting."

Dr. Jimenez St. Francis Hospital

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Dr. Jimenez holds hands with patient Ernesta Rivas, who was hit by a car.

Dr. Jimenez St. Francis Hospital

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Of his work at St. Francis Medical Center, Dr. Jimenez says, "I plan to stay here until I can’t do this anymore."


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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