The public health response to gun violence prevention is gaining traction. Violence acts much like a virus, guns make the virus lethal. Violence intervention programs work at the community level to prevent further spread of the virus of violence. Let’s demand Congress to take action and save lives
The following letter is a collective rallying cry for healthcare professionals from across America to call on Congress to act on #GunViolence by investing $5B in hospital and community-based violence intervention programs. Please ADD YOUR NAME
Let’s see how many nurses will join in this action! Please read, sign and share!
ADD YOUR NAME: Join the call from health care professionals for Congress to invest $5 billion in hospital- and community-based violence intervention programs
As health care professionals and health systems across America, we helped develop and deploy an evidence-based, public health approach to combating COVID-19. That approach brought together institutions and experts across disciplines in a common effort to tackle the virus through the use of data, research, and effective policies and practices. As a result, America is nearing the end of a pandemic that tore through communities, upended our economy and cost us hundreds of thousands of lives. Now, we face a concurrent public health crisis that requires the same vigor, and an equally health-centered approach: gun violence.
Each year, more than 115,000 people are shot in the United States and last year there were more than 43,000 gun-related deaths, which is more than the number of Americans who die from high blood pressure, malnutrition, HIV, Parkinson’s disease, viral hepatitis and many other conditions. Over the last few years, this epidemic has surged, with America’s largest cities suffering an estimated 30% increase in homicides. The devastating toll of gun violence disproportionately impacts communities of color. For example, Black Americans experience nearly 10 times the gun homicides, 15 times the gun assaults and three times the fatal police shootings of white Americans. This gun violence epidemic affects health care systems in every community across our country. It affects our patients and their families day in and day out. That’s why addressing gun violence isn’t a Republican issue or Democratic issue — it’s a public health issue.
As with COVID-19, we can stem this crisis if we take a public health approach to preventing and treating firearm injury and death. That means collecting data to understand the scope and complexity of gun violence, conducting research to identify root causes and risk factors, and implementing policies and interventions proven to work, like hospital-based violence intervention programs (HVIPs). Through HVIPs, health care professionals screen non-fatal gunshot patients to identify those at greatest risk for re-injury, and connect them with trained case managers who help them access wrap-around services, including trauma-informed care, job training and housing services. Critically, HVIPs help develop partnerships between hospitals and the communities they serve — which is essential to tackling any public health epidemic.
The HVIP strategy is an effective way to stop the cycle of gun violence. We know that patients with a history of violent injury are 45% more likely to return to the hospital with another violent injury in the next five years. But this is not inevitable; programs dedicated to intervening at this critical juncture have demonstrated remarkable success. An HVIP program in Baltimore, for example, saw the injury recidivism rate for participants fall as low as 5%.
As health care leaders on the front lines of the gun violence epidemic, we urge Congress to take an important step forward by providing $5 billion in funding for HVIPs and other community violence intervention programs through the American Jobs Plan. This investment is a critical component of the comprehensive public health approach necessary to curb this epidemic and mitigate the toll we see gun violence take on our patients every day.
Many of your colleagues in Congress have already proposed ideas on how to best implement this investment. Rep. Steven Horsford and Sen. Cory Booker, for example, recently introduced the Break the Cycle of Violence Act, which authorizes new grant programs and allows the NIH to award grants for HVIPs.
From trauma bays to operating rooms, we see the breadth and severity of the gun violence crisis in stark terms. Some of us have had to work quickly to stop patients from bleeding to death. Others have had to tell a parent that they’ve lost a child. Some of us have even been shot ourselves. We feel a pressing responsibility to protect the health and safety of the patients and communities we serve — and we urge you to act.