“Why Can’t You Help Me?” Planned Parenthood Clinics Navigate a Post-Roe Landscape

“Why Can’t You Help Me?” Planned Parenthood Clinics Navigate a Post-Roe Landscape

Some clinics plan to relocate

Hanging on with ultrasounds



Nurses at Texas Abortion Clinic After Fall of Roe: “Our Hands are Tied”

Nurses at Texas Abortion Clinic After Fall of Roe: “Our Hands are Tied”

While other nurses addressed the elephant in the waiting room, Jenny returned to the patient she had just left.

Bearing the bad news

Fear for the future

Published courtesy of The Texas Tribune, a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

In the Wake of Uvalde, Trauma Surgeons Share Experience of Mass Shootings with Congress

In the Wake of Uvalde, Trauma Surgeons Share Experience of Mass Shootings with Congress

When Dr. Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician in Uvalde, Texas, testified before a U.S. House committee Wednesday about gun violence, he told lawmakers about the horror of seeing the bodies of two of the 19 children killed in the Robb Elementary massacre. They were so pulverized, he said, that they could be identified only by their clothing.

In recent years, the medical profession has developed techniques to help save more gunshot victims, such as evacuating patients rapidly. But trauma surgeons interviewed by KHN say that even those improvements can save only a fraction of patients when military-style rifles inflict the injury. Suffering gaping wounds, many victims die at the shooting scene and never make it to a hospital, they said. Those victims who do arrive at trauma centers appear to have more wounds than in years past, according to the surgeons. Originally published in Kaiser Health News.

But, the doctors added, the weapons used aren’t new. Instead, they said, the issue is that more of these especially deadly guns exist, and these weapons are being used more frequently in mass shootings and the day-to-day violence that plagues communities across the nation.

The doctors, frustrated by the carnage, are clamoring for broad measures to curb the rise in gun violence.

Weeks after the Uvalde school shooting, what steps the country will take to prevent another attack of this magnitude remain unclear. The House on Wednesday and Thursday passed measures aimed at reducing gun violence, but approval in the Senate seems uncertain at best.

Many physicians agree something substantial must be done. “One solution won’t solve this crisis,” said Dr. Ashley Hink of Charleston, South Carolina, who was working as a trauma surgery resident at the Medical University of South Carolina in 2015 when a white supremacist killed nine Black members of the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. “If anyone wants to hang their hat on one solution, they’re clearly not informed enough about this problem.”

The weapons being fired in mass shootings — often defined as incidents in which at least four people are shot — aren’t just military-style rifles, such as the AR-15-style weapon used in Uvalde. Trauma surgeons said they are seeing a rise in the use of semiautomatic handguns, such as the one used during the Charleston church shooting. They can contain more ammunition than revolvers and fire more rapidly.

Overall gun violence has increased in recent years. In 2020, firearm injuries became the leading cause of death among children and adolescents. Gun-related homicides rose almost 35% in 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in May. Most of those deaths are attributed to handguns.

study recently published by JAMA Network Open found that for every mass shooting death, about six other people were injured. Trauma surgeons interviewed by KHN said the number of wounds per patient appears to have increased.

“I feel we are seeing an increase in the intensity of violence over the past decade,” said Dr. Joseph Sakran, a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He cited the number of times a person is shot and said more gun victims are being shot at close range.

Survival rates in mass shootings depend on multiple factors, including the type of firearm used, the proximity of the shooter, and the number and location of the wounds, said Dr. Christopher Kang of Tacoma, Washington, who is president-elect of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Several recent shootings have left few survivors.

The perpetrator of the Charleston massacre shot each of the nine people who were killed multiple times. Only one of those people was transported to the hospital, and, upon arrival, he had no pulse.

Last year, shootings at three Atlanta-area spas left eight dead — only one person who was shot survived.

The chaos at a mass shooting scene — and the presence of an “active” shooter — can add crucial delays to getting victims to a hospital, said Dr. John Armstrong, a professor of surgery at the University of South Florida. “With higher-energy weapons, one sees greater injury, greater tissue destruction, greater bleeding,” he added.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon who is chief medical correspondent for CNN, wrote about the energy and force of gunshots from an AR-15-style rifle, the type also used in the recent mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. That energy is equal to dropping a watermelon onto cement, Gupta said, quoting Dr. Ernest Moore, director of surgical research at the Denver Health Medical Center.

Medical advances over the years, including lessons learned from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, have helped save the lives of shooting victims, said Armstrong, who trained U.S. Army surgical teams.

Those techniques, he said, include appropriate use of tourniquets, rapid evacuations of the wounded, and the use of “whole blood” to treat patients who need large amounts of all the components of blood, such as those who have lost a significant amount of blood. It’s used instead of blood that has been separated into plasma, platelets, and red blood cells.

Another effective strategy is to train bystanders to help shooting victims. A protocol called “Stop the Bleed” teaches people how to apply pressure to a wound, pack a wound to control bleeding, and apply a tourniquet. Stop the Bleed arose after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were killed.

The CDC, which in the past two years has been able to conduct gun research after years of congressional prohibitions, has funded more than a dozen projects to address the problem of gun violence from a public health perspective. Those projects include studies on firearm injuries and the collection of data on those wounds from emergency rooms across the country.

For some doctors, gun violence has fueled political action. Dr. Annie Andrews, a pediatrician at the Medical University of South Carolina, is running as a Democrat for a seat in the U.S. House on a platform to prevent gun violence. After the school shooting in Uvalde, Andrews said, many women in her neighborhood reached out to ask, “What can be done about this? I’m worried about my kids.”

Dr. Ronald Stewart, chair of surgery at San Antonio-based University Health, told KHN that the people shot in Uvalde had wounds from “high energy, high velocity” rounds. Four of them — including three children — were taken to University Hospital, which offers high-level trauma care.

The hospital and Stewart had seen such carnage before. In 2017, the San Antonio hospital treated victims from the Sutherland Springs church shooting that left more than two dozen dead.

Two of the four Uvalde shooting victims have been discharged, University Health spokesperson Elizabeth Allen said, and the other two remained hospitalized as of Thursday.

It will take a bipartisan effort that doesn’t threaten Second Amendment rights to make meaningful change on what Stewart, a gun owner, called a “significant epidemic.” Stewart noted that public safety measures have curbed unintentional injuries in car crashes. For intentional violence, he said, progress hasn’t been made.


  • KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.
UTA Nursing Opens Rural Health Center

UTA Nursing Opens Rural Health Center

The College of Nursing and Health Innovation (CONHI) at The University of Texas at Arlington has launched a new center to enhance access to health care for Texas’ rural communities.

The Center for Rural Health and Nursing is funded by a $4 million legislative appropriation by the state of Texas. The funding will support the center’s efforts to improve rural nursing education and the health outcomes of rural populations.

“I am very thankful of the Legislature for its support of the University’s efforts to educate and train the next generation of rural health care providers,” said Teik C. Lim, UTA interim president. “Through this new center, we can significantly expand the reach of one of the nation’s top nursing programs to improve the health of rural Texans.”

Elizabeth Merwin, the center’s executive director and dean of CONHI, hopes the center will develop and foster a model for providing nursing education to rural residents aiming to become registered nurses and nurse practitioners. This model will support and educate those students while they reside in their home communities. It will also aim to reduce the shortage of nurses and other health providers in an effort to support access to health care for Texas’ rural populations.

“Thanks to generous funding by the state of Texas, CONHI will be able to form sustainable partnerships with rural communities that improve the quality of life for underserved populations in those areas,” Merwin said. “Our goal is to form close relationships with key organizations and stakeholders within rural communities in Texas to improve access to health care by enhancing the health professional workforce.”

In its first year, the center will develop partnerships in rural communities to perform educational needs assessments of registered nurses and nurse practitioners. Once needs have been identified, the center will provide training to support the communities’ current health care providers and educate new, incoming nurses and health professionals.

“UTA has a proven track record both in Texas and nationwide as a leading center of excellence for nursing education,” state Sen. Kelly Hancock said. “I have great confidence in the university’s ability, through its new Center for Rural Health and Nursing, to bring its nationally recognized nursing education and training programs to improve both nursing education and health outcomes in our state’s rural communities.”

Aspen Drude, the center’s manager, said the center aims to support existing providers and recruit young people from rural populations to become nurses in their communities.

“We want to make sure students who are in rural high schools and community colleges have paths into our programs,” Drude said. “We hope that our continuing education programs will meet the needs of current nurses and increase opportunities for rural residents, while meeting the workforce needs of the rural community.”

The center’s nursing education initiatives will be supported by Elanda Douglas, a clinical assistant professor and nurse practitioner with extensive experience as a family nurse practitioner.

“It’s really important for nursing students to understand that when they work in rural communities, they have to be well-rounded because they could be the only nurse in the clinic,” Douglas said. “Our rural health curriculum will prepare students with a broad set of skills to meet the day-to-day demands of rural care.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rural Americans face numerous health disparities compared with their urban counterparts. They are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, respiratory disease and stroke. Factors that put them at greater risk include higher rates of smoking, lower physical activity and less access to health care and health insurance. Rural communities also face unique workforce challenges and, too often, shortages of health care providers.

Reshma Thomas is a first-year student in CONHI’s Master of Science in Nursing program who has joined the center as a student nursing assistant. As a family nurse practitioner in training, Thomas is passionate about serving vulnerable rural populations.

“Nearly 25% of Texas’ population lives in rural communities and suffers from harmful health disparities and lack of care,” Thomas said. “Providing preventive care and raising the health care standards in these communities is vital.”

More on the center and updates can be found at its new website https://ruralhealthcenter.uta.edu/.

Look Who’s Vaxxing Too: BSNs Perfect Jab Skills at Kids’ Vaccination Clinic

Look Who’s Vaxxing Too: BSNs Perfect Jab Skills at Kids’ Vaccination Clinic

Stephanie Morgan, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, is no stranger to setting up and maintaining COVID-19 vaccination clinics. Thanks to her work with the team of nursing faculty and students, other health care providers, and volunteers that was formed in December 2020 when the vaccine first became available, she has been able to pull together and train teams to work with children, ages 5 to 11 in elementary and middle schools in Del Valle, an underserved community in southeast Austin.


Managing a vaccination event

Dr. Stephanie Morgan

On many weekdays, Dr. Morgan, director of The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing’s Wellness Center, can be found preparing for a vaccine event scheduled for the following day.

“Depending on the size of the event we need one to two non-clinical check-in individuals, two to four vaccinators, one to two mixers, one observation individual and a clinical lead,” she said. “On the day of the event, we estimate the number of vaccines to be administered and pack vaccine and supplies according to that estimation.”

The team arrives at the event one hour before the start time to set up and prepare the first vials of vaccine. Once they assemble, they conduct a brief with team members so everyone is clear on the plan and can ask questions.

“Likewise, when the vaccine clinic event is over, we debrief to determine what worked well and identify opportunities for improvement next time,” Dr. Morgan said. “At the conclusion, an event report is required to capture a summary that includes the type of vaccine(s) administered, doses given (first, second, immunocompromised or booster) and totals. It also includes doses wasted and if the waste was in a vial or syringe.”


BSNs learn the Covid-19 vaccine routine—and pick up some clinical pediatric experience

Across town, Amayrany Maya-Mora, BSN, RN, and public health nurse at the School of Nursing’s Children’s Wellness Clinic (CWC), begins her day by checking the clinic’s refrigerator and freezer temperatures to ensure that all vaccines are maintained in the proper storage conditions. She then checks in with the front office staff to see if any children are waiting to receive vaccines during the morning walk-in clinic.

“During our daily walk-in clinic at CWC, which runs from 8 to 9 a.m., we usually serve around five to seven children,” Maya-Mora said. “I follow this up by entering vaccine data into Immtrac, the state vaccine registry, order vaccines and supplies, and prepare for any upcoming vaccine events.”

The CWC staff spent a lot of time prior to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorization of the Pfizer and BioNTech SE COVID-19 vaccine for use in children 5 to 11 years old. Once the authorization was given in October 2021, the UT Austin School of Nursing was primed to begin providing it at both the CWC and the Family Wellness Clinic in addition to the area schools.

“Although the basic foundation for providing vaccinations at CWC was already in place, we still needed to provide more specific training,” Maya-Mora said. “We already give vaccines to children, but the COVID vaccine is different in its storage and reconstitution. Plus, we knew training would help boost the confidence of outside volunteers and nursing students. Vaccinating young children can be stressful if not done properly.”

“It’s important to be honest with children.”

Fortunately, Eduardo Chavez, PhD, RN, and a clinical assistant professor at the School of Nursing, had created a power-point training outlining creative ways to help volunteers feel confident and create a more relaxed atmosphere for children getting vaccinated. The slide show demonstrated how to safely hold pediatric patients, addressed appropriate needle lengths and provided communication techniques on how to talk honestly to children. “It’s important to be honest with children,” Maya-Mora added.

In addition, the team provided information to parents and others in the community.

“We made available information about studies and trials regarding the risk of side effects and what types of side effects they might expect,” Maya-Mora said. “There has been a great response, and parents have been very excited about our being able to partner with the Del Valle Independent School District and offer vaccines at their children’s schools. Unlike the CWC, not all pediatric clinics around the Austin area offer the vaccine, so we also provide Saturday clinics at Dailey Middle School and at the Opportunity Center at Del Valle High School. These walk-in clinics will be open through January from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s very important for parents to remember it’s a two-shot process.”

“Because the School of Nursing was prepared to administer vaccines as soon as they arrived, Del Valle ISD was the first Travis County school district to offer vaccinations in their schools with both doses available before the end of the year,” Dr. Morgan said. “That will amount to an average of 70 vaccinations given at each of the nine elementary schools in Del Valle. Parents who take advantage of these free clinics in their own communities can now relax, knowing that their kids — and their schools — are safer. Vaccinating children is an art, but with training, encouragement, and teamwork, we can increase the number of vaccinators and ensure that children are able to receive the COVID vaccine.”

Texas Staffing Shortage Shuts Down Rural Labor and Delivery Units

Texas Staffing Shortage Shuts Down Rural Labor and Delivery Units

Cuts to services

Transferring to larger hospitals

Vaccine misinformation impacts staff, patients