Hospitals Will Always Offer Healing and Hope as We Stand Up Against Violence
Ninety-five. That’s the number of mass shootings that have occurred in the United States during the first two months of this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Last year, there were 647 mass shootings in our nation. And gun violence overall claims more than 40,000 Americans annually. These numbers are staggering.
But we cannot resign ourselves to the notion that mass violence of any kind must be accepted as a fact of life.
As caregivers and healers, hospitals and health systems are the antithesis of violence. They are in the business of treating patients, healing communities and saving lives.
At the same time, care teams experience firsthand the crippling effects of violence as they care for victims when they arrive in our emergency departments and other care facilities. They also are the ones delivering difficult news to families and comforting them during these heart-wrenching moments. It takes a toll.
We must continue to stand up against violence. We must continue to push back and share solutions. And, we must vow to never accept violence as normal.
Hospitals and caregivers are taking a stand in a number of ways. For example, this week more than 100 individuals, including hospital and health system leaders, policymakers, clinicians and researchers participated in Northwell Health’s fourth annual Gun Violence Prevention Forum in New York City. The forum’s purpose is to create alliances, drive strategy and elevate the national conversation around gun violence as a public health emergency. This year’s sessions focused on actions to address some of the underlying causes of this crisis.
In addition, AHA’s Hospitals Against Violence (HAV) initiative continues to shine a light on how hospitals and health systems are working to heal victims of violence as well as their communities, prevent further acts of violence, and address violence in the workplace.
As part of the HAV initiative, we have been sharing resources and strategies to: support victims and communities of mass violence incidents; implement a public health approach to address gun violence; combat human trafficking; and enhance workplace violence prevention.
These resources cover a broad range of issues, including dealing with active shooter incidents in health care settings, coping with anger and aggression in the workplace, and encouraging parents to ask family and friends if firearms are safely stored in their home, just to name a few.
At the same time, hospitals and health systems are focused on the safety of health care workers who dedicate their lives to caring for others. Hospitals are taking a number of actions to enhance safety, including raising risk awareness, improving information-sharing and reporting, and investing in security, surveillance, training and alert notifications.
But more must be done. Last year, the AHA drafted, secured sponsors and worked with Congress on legislation to give health care workers the same legal protections against assault and intimidation that flight crews and airport workers have under federal law. We are working to get similar legislation introduced and passed during this Congress.
We must continue to take action to stop acts of violence in our nation. As places of healing, hope, safety and security, hospitals and health systems have an important role to play.