As executives and doctors of some of the largest non-profit health systems in the United States, we have seen the losses caused by the pandemic up close. From intubating patients and comforting family members to preparing food and disposing of personal protective equipment waste, our colleagues have been on the front line of our country’s response to COVID-19, often risking their own safety to fight the virus.
This is what hospitals and healthcare professionals do: We use our expertise to fight for the safety, well-being and lives of patients. During this pandemic, congressional leaders helped us make our efforts possible by supporting us to reverse the curve of a pandemic that swept communities, disrupted our economy, and took the lives of more than 600,000 Americans. But when it comes to another deadly epidemic that is sweeping our country-the gun violence epidemic, the leaders of Congress have not provided us with the tools we need to protect patients and communities.
This is not a new issue. In the past few decades, hospitals and healthcare professionals who have responded to the public health crisis caused by gun violence have not received the support we need.Since 2003, Congress Limits our ability to collect data To understand its scope and complexity. In 1996, Congress passed legislation leading to Basic medical research funding restrictions Into firearms injuries and deaths (relaxed recently).And in 1976 Congress Exclude guns from federal consumer safety standards, And later made gun manufacturers almost impossible to take responsibility Negligence and illegal behavior, Even if their actions cost their lives. As healthcare professionals, we rely on research, data collection, and evidence-based public policies to do the best for the patients we serve. It is unreasonable to deny the health system the use of these tools to combat COVID-19-but this is exactly what is happening in the fight against gun violence.
The result is devastating.Last year alone, there were more than 43,000 gun-related deaths In the U.S. This is more than the number of Americans who died of high blood pressure, malnutrition, HIV, Parkinson’s disease, or viral hepatitis. Like many of these diseases, gun violence has a disproportionate impact on communities of color.For example, gun violence is Main cause of death For young black men in the United States-the number of deaths exceeds the sum of the next nine main causes.
For a long time, healthcare professionals have been hindered, not supported, in our fight to protect patients from gun violence. It’s time to change. That’s why this week, we joined the ranks of 18 health system chief executives and more than 1,300 health care professionals in the United States. Urge legislators Help us get the job done. We ask Congress to support President Biden’s plan to invest $5 billion in gun violence intervention programs in hospitals and communities that have been proven to reduce shootings.
These programs enable healthcare professionals to screen patients with non-fatal gunshot wounds to identify those at greatest risk of re-injury and connect them with trained case managers to help them access services, including trauma-informed care, work Training and housing. The data shows that such efforts are effective.In some communities, as many as 45% Patients with a history of violent injuries will return to the hospital due to another violent injury within the next five years. However, the program dedicated to intervention at this critical time has a successful record.For example, a hospital-based violence intervention program in Baltimore found that the recidivism rate of patients was as low as 5%.
We are taking steps to implement similar plans within our own health system. At Northwell Health, we are screening patients for gun violence risks to link high-risk individuals with services and counseling gun owners on safe gun practices. At Johns Hopkins Hospital, we are incorporating violent disruptors into our work, which is a community-based approach to reducing community and interpersonal violence. At UChicago Medicine, we have integrated the Violence Rehabilitation Specialist (VRS) into our adult and pediatric trauma center to start the rehabilitation process during the patient’s hospitalization.
These plans are an important part of the comprehensive approach necessary to contain the epidemic and save lives. But we need to expand effective interventions across the country, and to do this, we need Congress to act.We are encouraged that some members of Congress have Take measures Do it only.
Nearly 18 months after our battle with COVID-19 began, healthcare professionals were applauded, thanked, and called heroes. The best way for our country to express gratitude is to provide us with the tools we need to prevent gun violence. The lack of action has caused many of us to leave in an attempt to stitch together the lives that this epidemic has touched. This needs to change.
At the graduation ceremony of the medical school, students traditionally recite the Hippocratic Oath, vowing to “do everything I can to prevent disease.” This is a sacred and long-term commitment. Congress should help us keep it.
This is an opinion and analysis article; opinions expressed Author or author Not necessarily those Scientific american.