Room 9: How UofL Hospital deals with city's plague of violence
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It's about 10:30 p.m. on Friday night when a scanner squawks in University of Louisville Hospital.
It's a notification that the person being brought to the hospital needs immediate care.
The speakers in the ER give warning: "Room 9, two minutes."
A 15-person team prepares in an area of University Hospital reserved for patients with the most critical needs.
The ambulance arrives and EMS crews roll a gurney 20 yards from the emergency entrance to the small, four-table room known as Room 9.
The next hour could decide if the person survives.
For 30 years, Dr. Royce Coleman has led the emergency department at UofL Hospital.
"I really enjoy trying to have a significant impact on people that are having the worst day of their lives," Coleman said.
Dr. Scott McClain is the Chief Emergency Medicine Resident, meaning he's a leader in a group training in the department.
"Room 9 is the definition of emergency medicine," McClain said.
"You're real busy and it's attractive to people who like to move fast," Coleman said.
To an outsider, the room appears to be full of chaos. A charge nurse asks for a pulse check as Coleman calls for more blood.
"It looks a lot more haphazard than it really is," Dr. Brian Ferguson, another Chief Emergency Medicine Resident remarked.
There's no time to worry about waste. Trash is dropped on the floor as the team scrambles to resuscitate patients.
"We run a lot of very sick patients through this ER, and we see a lot of very critical care," Ferguson said.
Recently, the department trained to see everything, has been seeing a lot more gunshots.
The number of shootings in the city has spiked by more than 40% since 2014.
In 2017, Louisville has had roughly as many shootings as days.
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"It's a lot more taxing emotionally, especially when it's someone's who's young," Dr. James Buchanan, a third year resident said.
"Sometimes, unfortunately, we have people who were involved in the incident trying to approach the hospital and come in," McClain said.
As Friday night turns into early Saturday morning, a voice hisses through the scanner again.
"Single gunshot wound to the head," it says. "Responsive at this time."
Ahmed Rahman, 27, was shot at an apartment complex in the California neighborhood.
"Can you squeeze my hands?" Buchanan asks. "Squeeze."
Rahman is able to answer questions for a detective before he begins mumbling.
He's rolled into a neighboring room for a CAT scan.
The machine hums and the computer lets out a long beeping noise.
Nurses in the room are taken back by the scan and Dr. Buchanan is called in to review it.
Rahman has a bullet lodged in his brain and is bleeding.
"This will probably only get worse for him," one nurse says.
His sister, Sumaiyah Rahman, would wait at the hospital for three hours as neurosurgeons struggled to save him.
"To see him so lifeless like that, he just had so much energy," she said. "You know you start thinking about these miracles and if God could just perform a miracle."
Three days later, doctors remove the machines helping Rahman hold on.
"I laid on his chest," Sumaiyah Rahman remembered. "I listened to his heart beat until it didn't beat anymore."
"You start questioning yourself," Buchanan explained. "You start second guessing, 'what could I have done better? What did I miss?'"
"Then you have to go out and see the other 20 patients that are waiting for your care," Coleman added. "Every patient deserves, rightfully so, your full attention."
Rahman is a victim of one of roughly 250 shootings in Louisville so far this year.
"Far as I'm concerned, every one of them could be a homicide," Coleman said.
"You can have a patient who's lying on the bed talking to you, and if the bullet had been a centimeter or a couple of millimeters one way or the other, they wouldn't have made it to the hospital," McClain said.
"I'm not going to just keep sitting here and being quiet because I can't," Sumaiyah Rahman said.
As long as Louisville deals with a plague of violence, the unit in Room 9 will treat it.
"I'm not a politician," Coleman said plainly. "I have a job to do."
Police have since arrested Mykeya Pruitt for Rahman's murder. She's charged with murder and tampering with evidence. Pruitt is currently in jail on a $500,000 bond.
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