Jefferson Award Winner, SF Surgeon Helps Young Offenders Move Away From Violence

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Dr. Rochelle Dicker (left,) Jefferson Award Winner. (CBS)

Dr. Rochelle Dicker (left,) Jefferson Award Winner. (CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — San Francisco General Hospital said a third of the shooting, stabbing and beating victims it treats return to the emergency room, injured from yet another crime. But one doctor has come up with a way to stop the revolving door of violence.

This week’s Jefferson Award winner said there is a teachable moment when a badly injured young offender is open to change.

A gun battle in the Bayview-Hunters Point six years ago changed the life of 24-year-old Joe Drake.

“I was shot five times and stabbed in the same day,” Drake recalled. “I was in a neighborhood fight.”

“Woke up with tubes in my mouth,” he reflected. “I thought my life was over.”

But his new life was just beginning, thanks to trauma surgeon Dr. Rochelle Dicker.

She founded the San Francisco Wraparound Project at the hospital in 2002 to rehabilitate young offenders who end up violence victims over and over again.

“This has to be treated, as is an epidemic,” said Rochelle.

She said her case managers try to reach out to the patients after their surgery at a critical time before they leave the hospital.

“There is a time when individuals say, ‘I could’ve been killed. This could’ve been devastating. However, I am open and vulnerable in this moment to make changes,'” said Rochelle.

In Joe’s case, she started with a bedside talk to encourage him to get engaged in his community.

“And I asked Joe, are you gonna register to vote? He said why would I vote?” said Rochelle.

“She’s just supposed to be taking out my tubes. Why is she involved with wanting to know how I’m voting?” said Joe.

Rochelle set Joe up with a Wraparound case manager.

And when Joe was ready, he started counseling, education and health services to turn his life around.

Today, Joe has two jobs, and studies social welfare and theater at City College.

Rochelle recruits him to talk to young offenders.

Joe says he’s proud of be one of Rochelle’s 350 Wraparound graduates and success stories.

“She was insistent to let me know there were more options available than what I was taking,” said Joe.

“It’s incredible. Sometimes I can’t get over how rewarding it’s been,” marveled Rochelle.

For wrapping the arms of the social service community around troubled young people, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Dr. Rochelle Dicker.

Right now, the Wraparound Project is helping 80 people aged 12 to 30 years old.

Rochelle said there is about a 60 percent reduction in getting involved in crime again after a person goes through the Wraparound program.

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