The Shepherd Center in Atlanta is a leading rehabilitation hospital for spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. Shepherd also has a highly acclaimed multiple sclerosis clinic. Years ago when I first started using the facility it was named Shepherd Spinal Center. Spinal cord injuries were their focus and everything was housed in the cramped original footprint.
The ALS clinic at Emory University was in its infancy when I reluctantly decided to use a wheelchair so an appointment was scheduled at Shepherd. This was over twenty years ago and Shepherd’s patient population was predominantly young white males that had been injured from diving accidents or car wrecks.
Soon after my first visit Shepherd began their first of two expansions. The rehab hospital was forced to grow because of an exponential growth of individuals with severed spinal cords. The demographic was shifting. An increasing number of young to middle age African American males in wheelchairs began filling the halls of Shepherd. At the turn of the century the same age bracket for Hispanic males pushed the Shepherd to expand a second time. White males had become an insignificant minority of the patient population.
Naïve to why the dramatic change in the patient demographics I asked Shepherd’s head neurologist several years ago. He informed me the overwhelming majority of new patients were gunshot victims. He continued, initially victims were shot in the head, obviously few survived, then a vindictive trend began to escalate, deliberately attempting to paralyze victims. In addition there continues to be enough lead flying that some is bound to sever cords.
Can you imagine living in an environment where the mindset of capping people in the head or attempting to paralyze them is as common as sirens blaring in the streets while trying to maintain hope of a better life? Those poor souls make my life a walk in the park.
Briefly stepping on my soapbox a moment, the solution is not more gun control. The problems are systemic and go much deeper than feel good laws criminals never obey. The ignorance of racial intolerance combined with the idiocy of political correctness has created the perfect storm. White flight, I’m guilty, cannot continue much longer without running head on into reality.
Everyone must pitch in to turn this tide. If your heart does not fill with compassion for the less fortune then think selfishly. If we do not take minority education seriously and stop teaching to the test or cheating, the majority of this country will collapse like the concrete jungles of Detroit in our children’s lifetime. Sorry to be so serious on a Friday, but I was at Shepherd yesterday for a trach change and was reminded of the real world. Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend! dj