Steve Jenkins Story
March 28, 2012
About four years ago, Steve Jenkins, a Los Angeles Police canine officer, came to the Providence Holy Cross Medical Center Emergency Department with an infected wound from a dog bite. Before he’d completed the paperwork, a doctor was ready to see him.
Jenkins, 43, who lives in Long Beach and was training in the area, remembers being impressed with the efficiency and the quality of care in the busy ER.
“I remembered thinking ‘what a great hospital, I wish I lived closer… just in case,’” the 22-year LAPD veteran said. “My memory was of excellent care for a dog bite. Who knew I would go back there to get my life saved?”
It was April 4, 2011, hours before dawn. The call was routine for the LAPD’s elite Metropolitan Division, the umbrella bureau for highly trained special squads, including the canine handlers.
Jenkins, armed with a shotgun, was slowly entering the Sylmar home of a man suspected of assaulting his wife. There had been no sign anyone was in the house but officers exercised extreme caution as they entered through the front door, Officer Jenkins in the lead position.
With no warning, gunfire broke the silence. Three shots were fired from a landing to the side of the door. Two of them hit Jenkins, one in the jaw and one in the upper chest.
The team withdrew and the officer was rushed to Providence Holy Cross, to the premier trauma center serving northern Los Angeles County. Later, the maxillofacial specialists who have continuously treated Jenkins at USC Medical Center have credited Holy Cross trauma surgeon David Hanpeter, M.D., with saving the officer’s life. One bullet had destroyed a crucial vein in his chest; another shattered his lower jaw.
"It was the worst case scenario and I got sent to the best place in the world,” he said. “I’m just so overwhelmed by how caring and compassionate everyone was."
He has since returned and met many of his ICU nurses.
“I heard the stories that my wife, my mom, my friends told me about Holy Cross,” he said. “They said everyone was just awesome. Your hospital and everyone who works there will always have a special place in my heart.”
The officer says without hesitation he owes his life to the trauma team. And, though he was comatose during his four days at Holy Cross, he profusely thanks the entire hospital staff, including the admitting staff and X-ray technicians he has seen in follow-up visits who have exhibited the hospital’s trademark compassion.
He still faces more surgery on his jaw and is limited to soft foods. And he’s determined to get back to work, probably in the spring. Today his focus is on family time. His wife Beth is an LAPD sergeant, one of his two adult sons joined his dad in the LAPD and the triplets – two girls and a boy – are starting the first grade.
Sometimes when he’s alone, he looks through boxes filled with cards from colleagues, well-wishers, school children and Boy and Girl Scouts, treasures collected from a time he can’t recall.
In response to numerous calls from the community, the Providence Health & Services Blood Donation Center held a series of blood drives in Jenkins’ name, collecting record pints to replenish supplies at the five Providence medical centers in the Los Angeles Area. The drives drew donors from all over Southern California, including hundreds from various law enforcement agencies.
“The only thing I remember was when they wheeled me into the trauma room, Jenkins said. “But the outpouring of love and support has been unbelievable.”