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In a career born in her own grief, violence recovery specialist works at a Chicago hospital in a city under siege

By Annie Sweeney, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO - Christine Goggins was just about to check in with the family of a gunshot victim, a new case that had been handed off from the previous shift, when the high-pitched beep of her pager sounded in her office at the University of Chicago's medical campus.

A middle-age man who had been assaulted and suffered severe head trauma was five minutes out from the hospital.

Goggins, 30, headed across three buildings, nearly a city block, to the emergency department at the U. of C. Medical Center. She found the man in too much pain to talk. The medical team was getting him stabilized and starting IVs, and Goggins would have wait to see if he was able to talk later in the day.

So she found a spot at the administration station to make a call and returned her attention to the morning's gunshot victim.

Goggins used her cellphone to check and see if the family needed anything, after reaching a relative. The victim, a young adult woman, was headed to surgery. Things were going OK, the family member assured Goggins.

It was just 15 minutes into Goggins' shift on a recent afternoon, and she'd already seen two emergency victims. She was sitting in a coffee shop near her office, still wearing her UChicago face mask, looking at a sheet of paper on what the day would bring.


After dealing with what the prior shift had handed her, she was ready to tackle her own cases.

"Oh," she said when she got to the bottom of the list. "I have all gunshot wounds. I didn't even realize that."


There are many ways to measure and consider Chicago's deadly 2020.


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