Dr. Robert Gore combines his passions for being a physician and stamping out violence in the community into a prescription that’s helping combat an issue that’s plaguing Brooklyn. Gore, 36, is an emergency medical doctor at Kings County and SUNY Downstate hospitals and serves as executive director of the Kings Against Violence Initiative (KAVI).
Oftentimes treating teens who come into the hospital as a result of violence, Gore takes things a step further by working to prevent violence from even starting. KAVI is a program based in hospitals and schools that provides violence intervention, youth empowerment and prevention programs.
“We as medical professionals patch up some of the wounds, but oftentimes we don’t pay attention to the fact that these wounds are recurrent,” he said. “Over 40 percent of violent cases come back to the hospital in five years and 20 percent are killed after an initial gunshot incident.”
A native of Brooklyn himself, Gore said he got his inspiration to be a doctor after suffering a knee injury as a teen. The orthopedic surgeon who treated him and later became his mentor encouraged him to go into medicine. He graduated from the all-male, historically Black Morehouse College before going to SUNY Buffalo for medical school.
Gore did his residency in Chicago, where he said he wanted to institute changes among the patients he was treating. Primarily focusing on youth between the ages of 14 and 18, he said, oftentimes, victims of violent crimes are not treated for the emotional aftermath.
“When we speak to families, we start to help link kids to some of the behavioral and health resources in the community. Oftentimes, support staff is limited in what we can actually do at the hospital. You have to look at violence [as being] similar to when people get injured in the military. Victims can suffer from post-traumatic stress,” he said.
KAVI was created as a way to help prevent the violence that Gore was seeing. Currently, KAVI is in two high schools in Brooklyn five days a week helping at-risk students. In the schools, students participate in workshops and activities, including martial arts, tutoring, photography and meditation.
“Once students get involved, their perception starts to change, at least we hope,” he said. “In the workshops, we focus on conflict resolution, anger management, mentoring and social support. When you look at violence as a multi-point issue, you have multiple solutions.”
An accomplished educator and speaker, Gore is also a clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine at SUNY Downstate. His involvement in global health has taken him around the world, educating doctors in South America, Asia and Africa. Gore also lent his time to helping victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. However, while spreading his message internationally, he vows to remain dedicated to his Brooklyn community.
“I don’t feel like I’m doing anything new, I’ve already been involved,” he said. “My family is activist-oriented so this is something I’ve known my entire life.”