Shining Knight, May 2, 2015

Celebrating our ‘Shining Knights’

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Saturday marks a special event in the life of Virginia Commonwealth University: The annual Shining Knight Gala, which honors the life-saving physicians, nurses and care providers from VCU Medical Center’s Level 1 trauma center.

They are, without a doubt, heroes to so many who depend upon their expertise and advocacy. I could not be more proud of them and the profoundly important work they do to treat and prevent trauma in our community. Funds raised by the gala support their Injury and Violence Prevention Program, aimed at curbing preventable trauma before it occurs and, this year, focused on the East End Project.

In honor of the Shining Knight Gala, and the mission it supports, I have asked Dr. Michel Aboutanos, Chair of the Division of Acute Care Surgery, Medical Director of the Level 1 trauma center at VCU Medical Center and the Fletcher Emory Ammons Distinguished Professor in Surgery, to write a guest blog post. Dr. Aboutanos is internationally renowned for his work in injury and violence prevention and trauma surgery, including his service as president of the Panamerican Trauma Society, which is the leading society for development and promulgation of standards/guidelines of care in the Americas.

Dr. Aboutanos’s post follows.


As a trauma surgeon, I see lives interrupted on a daily basis. Lives of people all around us: our friends, our neighbors, our families. People critically injured from car crashes, falls or violence. I believe we are the best at what we do. We are trained to fix people; to make them better.

Wanda Mitchell, Ed.D. Michel Aboutanos, M.D., M.P.H.

The reason we are the best is because of our people, our commitment to our mission, and the vision we have for a better, safer community. What is most heartbreaking is when a patient returns to our trauma center injured again. This is a vicious cycle and we see it regularly. So, how do we make a lasting impact? With your help. I believe we can address the problem head on through prevention, research, education and awareness. By working together we can get to the root of the issues.

While we are the best at what we do clinically, we strongly believe that trauma is no accident.

Therefore, we are heavily engaged in our community to prevent trauma before it occurs. Through the Injury and Violence Prevention Program we implement evidence-based initiatives and develop resources targeting specific populations that are likely to experience or re-experience traumatic injury. By providing injury prevention resources and education, we can change people’s routines and behaviors in a positive way. Prevention and intervention programs are a powerful way to stop the revolving door of injury and violence. As the chief of trauma at VCU Medical Center, I believe we have an incredibly experienced team that can give patients a second chance at life, even at incredible odds. Yet, our real goal is to make our communities injury-free by helping them learn how to make safe and healthy lifestyle choices.

We can’t do it alone. We work with many community partners including schools across the region, local police departments, various nonprofit organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Richmond, the health system’s pipeline programs, and you. There are plenty of ways to get involved. Join us in our effort to instill change for all those at risk of injury or violence. Learn more about VCU Health’s Injury Violence and Prevention Program and how you can make a positive difference in someone’s life.

– Michel Aboutanos, M.D., M.P.H.