We are heartened by the news that the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement focused on reducing gun violence. WSHA joins the American Hospital Association in urging Congress to quickly pass the proposal.
Like many of you, I grieve the tragedies in Uvalde, Brooklyn, Tulsa, and every other community that has experienced violent attacks. The impact of gun violence is heartbreaking and devastating. It is impossible for me as a parent to fathom the devastation of a murdered child.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have correctly recognized gun violence as an urgent public health issue. Many of us have felt this reality with colleagues and families impacted in local incidents. Hospital staff also carry collective trauma from their care for victims of mass violence.
The Senate’s bipartisan proposal will help reduce gun violence in our communities. It also recognizes critical action areas, including investing in mental health services in the community and through telehealth, national expansion of the community behavioral health center model, increasing access to suicide prevention programs and crisis and trauma intervention services and funding school-based mental health services. The agreement is an example of how compromise is possible even in fraught moments.
Hospitals are working together in Washington State to reduce violence and to ensure that hospitals are as safe as possible for patients and staff. This work includes violence prevention and response training, and mental health services for hospital staff. Through our equity work, we have seen an increase in diverse segments of our community coming together, resulting in improved relationships, knowledge-sharing and understanding. WSHA has supported public policy to limit dangerous gun access, including a state ballot initiative to keep firearms out of the hands of someone deemed a danger to themselves or others.
We recognize that there is still much more work to do reducing harm and violence within our communities. We will continue to look for ways to contribute to a safer country for all of us.