Skip to content
Community Safety Fund Grantees

The BRIC: A Mind, Body, and Soul Approach to Healing Trauma

I founded The Bullet Related Injury Clinic (BRIC) in 2020 to make a place of healing for that trauma in St. Louis. We also seek to bridge the fatal gaps in care that occur for people who have been threatened and injured by bullets, as well as those who have injured others with bullets.

The BRIC was created from a need for aftercare for patients and families to address the impact of a bullet. This need goes beyond the physical and includes the emotional, mental, social, and spiritual effects of a bullet—including the impact felt when people are threatened by or lose a loved one to a bullet. 

As a former academic trauma surgeon, too often, I bore witness to the loss of life due to a bullet, particularly the lives of young Black men. From my experiences at the trauma center, paired with existing research on firearm injury, I recognized three essential realities in the space: 

  1. There is no medical home for the outpatient management of non-operative bullet injuries.
  2. Retained bullets have an enormous impact on well-being and recovery. And
  3. The trauma that remains unhealed in the bodies of people with bullet-related injuries is often the source of future bullet-related injuries.

Be’Twain’s Story

  • Our patients and team are dynamic and, advancing in their healing and growth each day. Be’Twain’s story is one such example:

    Be’Twain was an early participant in The BRIC, just months after we had opened. He had been shot in the hand and was unable to care for his wound alone. As the weeks passed, he came back frequently to get his hand cleaned and bandaged; we removed fragments of the bullet each time. 

    Be’Twain eventually healed and became part of our team working the front desk. One day, he pulled me aside and asked me if I could take another bullet out. Years before, he had been shot in the chest and had a bullet sitting under his skin. He told me he thought about it every day and that it didn’t just give him pain—it also reminded him of a moment when his life was threatened. 

    One simple procedure was all Be’Twain needed to get free of a burden he had held for years.  He now shares his story of liberation with many and has continued to work with our programming, now focusing on our outreach efforts. Many others at The BRIC share a similar story to Be’Twain. These stories reveal not only the power of The BRIC to meet immediate needs, but also the ways that healing multiplies—in our lives and in the lives of those around us—as we embrace it.

We see a need for new language to describe the condition often termed “gun violence,” which is the leading cause of death for Black men and for children. Language must be free of the assumptions and value judgments that worsen the harm. These needs are why our clinic focuses on “bullet injuries” and not “gun violence.” We understand that the injuries bullets create result in wounds seen and unseen. A broad definition of the condition they create is necessary to address what they do comprehensively.  This approach particularly allows us to support and elevate historically marginalized communities. It also allows us the grace to focus on what matters most to those we serve while centering the well-being of our staff.

The BRIC focuses on bridging care between emergency services and long-term trauma recovery for those suffering from bullet-related injuries. Our care also extends to loved ones and family who were not directly impacted by the bullet’s path. 

The clinic employs staff with lived experiences with trauma, bullet-related injuries, and recovery. Our staff address a core injury of bullet-related injuries: broken trust. Being injured by, losing a loved one to, or being threatened by a bullet breaks the trust that your body, home, and community are safe places to be. At The BRIC, we take universal precautions to avoid further re-injuring that broken trust.

At The BRIC, peers, social workers, licensed therapists, clinicians, chaplains, and healers all work in concert to provide a comprehensive and custom plan for individual patients and their family members who also want to engage with our services. We call this approach “The BRIC Village.” The village recognizes that the trauma of bullet injuries separates us from each other and ourselves.  

We understand bullet-related injury to be a whole-person condition of wounds seen and unseen that can radiate. These injuries affect not just the people who have sustained a physical wound, but everyone around them, including those who are caring for them. Both the injured individual and their provider can experience:

  • Loss of control and helplessness,
  • Feeling unsafe,
  • Nervous system dysregulation,
  • Use of toxins, and
  • Compromised personal relationships.

At The BRIC, we believe that trauma is healed in community. Because of this belief, we strive to mitigate the impact of bullet-related injury exposure through our co-located model of care. This model means our practitioners never work alone. Instead, they work in concert with each other, holistically supporting each other and the patients.

Patients are introduced to The BRIC through a “BRIC Box,” which contains wound and self-care supplies and an invitation to be seen at The BRIC. The clinic operates four days a week to provide a range of co-located services, including:

  • Pain experience management,
  • Wound care,
  • Assessment of retained bullets,
  • Spiritual care,
  • Trauma assessment and therapy,
  • Play therapy,
  • Family therapy,
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy,
  • Therapeutic listening,
  • Physical function services, and
  • Social care and social work support. 

These offerings are an important part of The BRIC’s holistic—mind, body, soul—approach to helping our patients heal their trauma. This healing has a ripple effect: People who have experienced it often share their healing with their community 

The BRIC cares for about 10 to 20 patients and their accompanying family members daily. Visits can be as short as a few minutes but often last more than two hours. The care and length of visits are structured on what matters most to each individual and their family. In one day, the clinic can often provide all of the following services:

  • Enroll new patients
  • Provide 1:1 mental well-being care
  • Remove a bullet from a patient
  • Make an ancestor grief box for someone experiencing loss
  • Refer and connect a patient to a community-based service
  • Provide somatic therapy to several patients.

The most transformative part of our work is the extension of direct referrals to The BRIC to those who are justice-involved. The BRIC connects with the local juvenile courts and the prosecuting attorney’s office to identify those who would benefit from clinic visits. These visits help these individuals to heal from physical injuries. They also contribute to a diversion program, providing an alternative to incarceration. In this way, BRIC medicine is getting to those who are both most impacted and most at-risk for future bullet-related injuries. 

I am the Executive and Medical Director of the nonprofit Power4STL, which houses The BRIC. Our work at The BRIC is also integrated into another holistic harm-reduction program housed at Power4STL: The T. The T’s approach to drug use and overdose risk has been transformative in our understanding of:

  • The experience of trauma;
  • Innovative ways of managing pain; and
  • An approach that focuses on meeting people where they are at. 

A subset of participants engage with programs at both The BRIC and The T, as there is significant overlap in needs and experiences. Having both approaches accessible within one system of care has been radical. We practice clinical harm reduction: One of those harms is bullets, while another is the harm of systems of care themselves.  

This unique model of solidarity radically centers the Black masculine-bodied experience. We are committed to this experience and approach in all we do. In centering Black men, we make space for the healing of trauma in new and important ways. 

In 2023, The BRIC received a grant from the Everytown for Gun Safety Community Support Fund. This funding supports the salaries of our Director of Spiritual Care and a Naturopathic Doctor. Everytown funding has also supported funds for patient transportation to address a major barrier many people face while trying to access care. The remainder of the received funds supported supplies for wound care, pain management, self-care, and healing.

Additionally, Everytown supported four team members from The BRIC to participate in the ROCA Impact Institute Rewire CBT Training, which launched in person in March 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. 

We also recently received funding through the advocacy of Congresswoman Cori Bush to renovate the Mound City Medical Center, a once-renowned private medical office for a cohort of Black physicians in North St. Louis City. This funding will allow for significant expansion of our work and approach in the region. We anticipate opening in January 2026. 

We have engaged the team at Everytown more broadly in discussing the national positioning of our work and approach to bullet injuries. Dr. Cherrell Green, the Associate Director of Engagement and Assessment for the Everytown Community Safety Initiatives, involved several of our participants in her research regarding the experience of bullet injury in Black men. 

I am inspired daily to continue in this work by the incredible team I work with, the patients and families who trust us every day to be part of their healing journey, and the vast community of social and health care providers who themselves suffer from bullet-related injuries and need to know a different way is possible. Bullet-related injury is a whole-person injury, and it requires whole-person care.

The Latest