He works to save lives, in and out of hospital

Trauma surgeon also mentors at-risk youth

07/06/2011 12:00 AM

07/22/2011 8:22 PM

Dr. David Jacobs has seen many life-and-death situations in more than 22 years as a trauma surgeon and critical care specialist.

He is the associate medical director of the F.H. "Sammy" Ross Trauma Institute at Carolinas Medical Center. The area's only Level One Trauma Center, it's equipped to handle the most severe traumas. It has a trauma surgeon on site 24-7 and an operating room ready at all times.

A common misconception about trauma surgeons is that they are limited to performing surgery on people brought in through the emergency room.

But that is just part of their job.

They are part of a comprehensive team, responsible for inpatient care of those suffering from trauma, both in and out of the intensive care unit, as well as for critical-care surgical patients.

Originally from Cleveland, Jacobs, 58, and his wife of 26 years, Rosalyn-Allison Jacobs, a nonprofit consultant, live in south Charlotte. They have three sons, who range in age from their early to mid-20s.

David Jacobs spent his early life living in a housing project in inner-city Cleveland. When he was in second grade, his family moved to a neighborhood that bordered a more affluent area. Fortuitously, that gave him access to better schools, which "prepared me well to go on to college and beyond," said Jacobs.

Jacobs and his colleagues encounter victims of violence, such as those with gunshot or stab wounds and those who have been assaulted. As someone who works directly with the devastating results of violence, Jacobs wanted to address its root causes and work toward violence prevention.

He chairs the Violence Prevention Committee at CMC and has spoken throughout Charlotte, at schools, local organizations and various events about violence prevention.

Although concerned with all forms of violence, Jacobs has taken a particular interest in the young African American community, as black males are more likely than others to be affected by violence.

Jacobs gets personally involved as a mentor.

Jacobs has been a member of 100 Black Men of Charlotte for more than 15 years. The organization's goal is to "improve the quality of life in the African American community through their collective resources, abilities and experiences."

The group works to empower youth to succeed academically, socially and culturally. One way they do that is by pairing an at-risk youth with a positive adult role model who helps them to develop the skills needed to become productive, contributing citizens. This potentially life-changing relationship usually starts in middle school and continues for years.

The mentors and mentees meet as a group on selected Saturdays, where they participate in workshops on everything from leadership development to life skills. They also take field trips. Jacobs makes a habit of picking up his mentee and taking him out to breakfast on those Saturdays.

The mentoring has made a positive difference: Jacobs proudly recalls recently attending his past mentee's college graduation at UNC Charlotte.

Jacobs' contribution to the community was recognized when the Charlotte Office of the FBI gave him the Director's Community Leadership Award in 2007. More recently he received the 2010 Lowe's Community Service Award.

Sacrifice and understanding are required on the part of the family of someone in Jacobs' line of work, but that doesn't mean family isn't a priority.

"I don't think I missed any of my sons' games when they were growing up," said Jacobs. He said the other surgeons in his group work with one another on scheduling if someone has a family event or obligation.

In the little free time he has, Jacobs plays some piano and a little trumpet, but choral and vocal music are his real interest. And what doctor doesn't enjoy an occasional game of golf?

One might wonder how he makes time for his demanding job, his family and contributing to our community. He sums it up: "It's important. You have to. You just have to do it."

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