Hospital systems to Congress: "Enough is enough" on gun violence

·2 min read

More than a dozen CEOs of major health systems sent a letter to Congressional leaders Wednesday calling for support of President Biden's proposal to fund $5 billion in hospital and community-based gun violence intervention programs.

Why it matters: The letter from some of the top health systems in the country — including CommonSpirit Health, RWJBarnabas Health, Sanford Health and Intermountain — comes as gun violence reaches critical levels.

  • In 2020, there were a record 43,559 firearms-related deaths and more than 39,000 additional injuries recorded. The country on pace to surpass records again this year.

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The goal is “keeping the pressure on Washington” Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health told Axios.

The big picture: Health care professionals have become increasingly vocal on the lack of tools to address the growing number of victims affected by gun violence in hospitals every day.

  • Many health systems are trying to implement their own intervention programs or apply for federal funding to research root causes of gun injuries.

  • In some cities, as many as 45% of patients with a history of violent injury return with another injury within the next five years, according to the letter to Congress.

Context: Gun violence is the least researched of the 30 leading causes of death, largely because Congress had banned such research.

  • But $25 million was made available last year, which caused a flood of interest among scientists and researchers to study gun injury research.

What they're saying: Dowling hopes his messaging on gun violence as a public health issue will get more of a collaborative effort with the public and lawmakers than years of divisive talks on gun control.

  • "Our stance from the health care industry is firearm injuries, no different than COVID-19, is not a political issue," Chethan Sathya, pediatric surgeon and the director of Northwell’s Center for Gun Violence Prevention, tells Axios.

  • "This is a combination of enough is enough, they want the violence to stop. They want unnecessary firearm injuries to stop," he added.

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