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Northwell Health hosts annual gun violence prevention forum

Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling and New York Governor Kathy Hochul

Northwell Health held its fourth annual gun violence prevention forum on Tuesday, bringing together 50 hospital executives from across the country to brainstorm ways to stop gun violence.

Speakers included Steven Dettelbach, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, gun violence researchers and families of those killed by guns.

“Up until recently, there was a lot of hesitancy to get involved because of the politics of this issue," said Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health. "But now we have 50 CEOs of big systems, representing the big portion of healthcare in the United States agreeing to be involved.”

Speakers at the forum told hospitals that they should contribute their data on gun trauma and also help screen for gun violence risks much like they screen for tobacco and domestic violence risks. 

"As a profession we've had to take on and engage in a conversation on issues that sometimes either feel uncomfortable or that seem like they're perhaps not in our lane," Surgeon General Murthy said. "Issues like smoking or sexual health or mental health, these are all issues that were challenged years ago."

Hochul appeared at the event to claim credit for a reduction in gun violence that spiked in New York during the pandemic.

"New York City, just in the month of January, had the fewest shootings we've had since the pandemic started," she said.

While shootings have fallen across the state in recent months, they are still above pre-pandemic levels.

Following the forum, hospital CEOs broke-out into work groups to brain storm ideas on how they can reduce gun violence. From previous forums came the creation of an ad campaign that encouraged parents to lock firearms when not in use.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.