Northwell launches public awareness campaign to tackle gun violence

Northwell launches public awareness campaign to tackle gun violence
Dr. Chethan Sathya (left) and Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling (right). (Photo courtesy of Northwell Health)

Northwell Health’s continuing fight against gun violence in America now features a multi-platform public awareness campaign, encouraging hundreds of other healthcare systems throughout the nation to follow suit.

Online advertisements, television commercials and printed messages targeting the rampant deaths of kids and children every day as a result of gun violence began circulating earlier this fall. Dr. Chethan Sathya, director of Northwell’s Center for Gun Violence Prevention, said the campaign was launched to make parents aware of questions that should be asked about safe firearm storage and violence prevention.

“It’s translating what we do as a health system into the public as well,” Sathya said in an interview. “It’s inspired a lot of conversations among parents, which is great and what we want people to focus on. We really want to frame this as a public health and safety issue.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data earlier this year that showed more than 45,000 firearm-related deaths in the United States in 2020, a new peak. Over 4,300 children ages 1-19 died from gun violence in the United States in 2020, the leading cause of death for children and teens, according to the data.

Sathya underscored the importance for people not to view this campaign or any of Northwell’s efforts to combat gun violence as an attack on the Second Amendment. Gun violence in America, he said, has become a safety issue rather than a political one, despite some individuals still claiming the health-care system is pushing for the repeal of firearms.

“The majority of gun owners in this country are for firearm safety, responsible gun ownership and safe storage,” Sathya said. “But there are millions of Americans who are first-time gun owners and just don’t know about the dangers of having a gun in the household.”

Sathya said having a firearm in the house increases the risk of accidental injury, suicide and homicide, so providing educational resources for gun owners is an initiative Sathya lauded.

Northwell currently screens its patients for firearm injury risk, asks questions related to firearm safety and, if needed, offers a variety of counseling and violence prevention resources. As a pediatric trauma surgeon in Chicago, Sathya said, seeing a 6-month-old child with a bullet wound led him on his advocacy journey to address gun violence in America.

“Seeing what the parents go through and the fact that this could be your own child… how could you not prioritize this,” Sathya said. “It was definitely a transformative experience for me and one of the big reasons why I am so passionate about this.”

In 2020, Sathya was awarded $1.4 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop and implement a universal screening protocol among those at risk for firearm injury as part of Northwell’s ‘We Ask Everyone. Firearm Safety is a Health Issue” research study. The protocol tracks patients’ responses to questions about firearm safety and uploads them to their electronic health records.

Sathya mentioned that other health-care systems have a surplus of funding on the state and federal level that can be utilized in efforts to combat gun violence and said more hospitals and organizations are taking the steps to address the issue.

“This is the leading cause of death in kids. It’s going to get worse and worse and continue to be the leading cause of death unless we collectively prioritize this,” he said.

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  1. Before i proceed to offer my thoughts on the reported issue of gun violence in the United States of America and the continued campaign to tackle the issue.
    I must first confess that I’m not a resident of the USA. I am a British citizen and resident of the UK.
    How I came to be on this site is purely accidental and was the result of my researching a life coach.
    That said, my interest was caught by this report and I believe it a human
    moral duty to speak up if one has ideas that may positively contribute.
    As I read the report it occurred to me that the main focus was creating a robust awareness campaign comprising of all major elements of media and social marketing.
    It’s all good and all helps in opening minds and questioning social ideals and how the right to bear arms though well intended must also be well regulated by each individual with the consequential results of none self regulated gun ownership and availability being plain to see especially by those outside of the USA looking in.
    Having stayed in the great state of Ohio for some time once, I’m privy to an alternate view. That is my experience was one of feeling welcomed with typical American high energetic zeal and of feeling more than assuredly safe at all times. I am aware that there are areas where I may not have felt so safe but my experience gives me hope that there is more than enough reason to believe the USA can find a way to not only combat but stop completely the violent gun crime and unnecessary death it causes.
    My idea is based on incentive and offering a viable alternative for all Americans, not just poor disadvantaged Americans but all must have access to the alternative incentive to gun ownership.
    This creates no room for subversive divisions to creep in and question the good intentions behind the cause. A declaration signed and certified unarmed citizen.There could be a card that can be inspected upon declaring oneself
    “U.A.C” Unarmed American Citizen to police, upon which after inspection and validation via ID varifiation with card number police should be assured there are no weapons upon the person and stand at ease. Thus making a much more amicable situation without nervous fingers on triggers and tragic consequences.
    What incentive? Well the itinerary is as full as the possibilities that could be created for individual US citizens and the United States of America, socially and economically if for example the incentive was real fully certified and fully funded training and further education including bringing anyone with missing, partial or even no education up to date before further training and education. Make it realistically attainable and accessible with a promising end result of above average possible earnings and or self employment via small business owner/skilled tradesman. With some financial efficiancy and cross party acceptance of moral responsibility to its citizens I hope the USA will overcome and reinvigerate that good old US of A confidence and swagger. We kinds miss that out here in old blighty.


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