Healthcare industry leaders speak out against gun violence after the latest tragedy
Advocates say hospitals and clinicians have a role to play in violence intervention strategies, but federal funding is needed to ensure such measures can have maximum impact.
Leaders of healthcare provider associations on Wednesday called for action against gun violence to be taken in the name of public health.
The associations commented after the shooting deaths Tuesday of 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. The killings happened only 10 days after a shooting that took the lives of 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo. The latest shooting is the deadliest to take place at a school since 20 children and six adults were killed in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.
Following are excerpts of statements from several associations.
Chip Kahn, president and CEO, Federation of American Hospitals: “We urge lawmakers to meet this moment. One simple step forward is providing funding to vital hospital violence intervention programs, which are an important component of any comprehensive strategy to apply proven public health solutions to this public health epidemic.”
Association of American Medical Colleges: “We once again call on Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to take decisive action on commonsense policies and reforms, such as background checks, investments in hospital-based and other community violence interventions, and other tools that so many Americans support.
“Gun violence is not political. It is a public health crisis that must be addressed. How much more can our nation endure?”
Bruce Siegel, MD, president and CEO, America’s Essential Hospitals: “We must act now and do more to understand and confront the root causes of violence. Essential hospitals know the imperative of this work, due to their mission of serving marginalized people at heightened risk of interpersonal violence and their experience as front-line caregivers for mass casualty events.
“Action must involve all with a stake in building safe and healthy communities and embrace comprehensive strategies to end the epidemic of violence in our country. Better access to mental healthcare and social services are important parts of the equation, but not solutions on their own. Sustainable solutions also will require policymaking, research and prevention.”
Rick Pollack, president and CEO, American Hospital Association: “Hospitals have been working with their communities to support programs that lower risk for violence, such as implementing gun buy-back programs to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands; providing free trigger locks to prevent unintentional firearm discharge, no questions asked; and counseling and distributing educational resources on firearm safety in clinical settings.
“We also are continuing to work to make hospitals and health systems safe for patients, families and employees. The AHA has urged the Department of Justice to support legislation that would give healthcare workers the same legal protections against assault and intimidation as flight crews and airport workers have under federal law.”
Available resources and guidance
The AHA previously developed content about gun violence as a public health issue and the role of hospitals and health systems in initiatives to reduce the risk of violence.
The American Medical Association (AMA) and American Nurses Association (ANA) both declared firearm-related violence a public health crisis in 2016 following the shooting deaths of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
The AMA put out a range of policy recommendations to address gun violence and has produced resources “to help physicians address firearm injuries, including a continuing medical education module designed to assist physicians in recognizing risk factors and effectively communicating with patients to reduce the risk of firearm injury and death.”
In its 2016 declaration, the ANA called for both legislation to address gun violence and wide-ranging “dialogue and action to address the underlying issues that result in hate and motivate these unspeakable acts of violence.”