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Northwell Health President & CEO Michael Dowling today pledged $1 million to help mobilize health care providers to combat gun violence as a national public health crisis, and challenged other large health systems in the New York area and beyond to match the investment.





“I have been frustrated by the inability of many health system CEOs to stand up and talk about the issue of gun violence,” Mr. Dowling told more than 170 attendees at Northwell’s Gun Violence Prevention Forum, held Thursday in Manhattan. “CEOs can’t be silent anymore, not on an issue this big. If you have the courage and strength to run a big health system, you should have the courage to stand up and talk about this.  My goal is to get all major health systems in the United States to pledge their support.”

Northwell organized Thursday’s conference to increase awareness of gun violence as a public health issue and leverage the power of a $3.5 trillion industry with a workforce of more than 18 million to find ways of stopping the bloodshed -- a movement that now boasts its own hashtag #ThisIsOurLane. The conference included physicians, trauma surgeons, researchers, policy experts and some of the nation’s leading health care executives.


Gun Violence Prevention Forum speakersAmong the featured speakers were:


Marisol Martinez, a survivor of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, and Payton Francis, a student at nearby American Heritage High School, who are both activists/singers with Operation Respect who have been raising their voices against gun violence through musical performances.  “Living in the aftermath of a mass shooting is incredibly isolating,” said Ms. Martinez, who continues to receive therapy for post-traumatic stress.
Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, who founded a victims’ support group called “Survivors Empowered” after their daughter and 11 others were killed in the 2012 Aurora, CO theatre shooting. Since then, they have traveled to the sites of 15 mass shootings to build a support network of survivors, victims, and families. “Trauma therapy support is often left out,” said Ms. Phillips. “We saw the opportunity to activate survivors.”

  • Mark Rosenberg, MD, a public health researcher and former head of the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Most of these deaths can be prevented by using science,” he said, just as the government and the medical community used their influence to eradicate smallpox (which killed 300 million people in 1900), reduce smoking, and decrease highway deaths through seat-belt use, stricter drunk driving enforcement and greater car safety.  

  • Robert McLean, MD, president of the American College of Physicians.

  • John Miller, deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism of the New York Police Department.

  • Daniel Webster, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.
  • Megan Ranney, MD, chief research officer of the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine.

  • High-caliber bullets are spread out across an American flag. Michael Dowling questions where health care CEOs stand in the fight against gun violence





  • Where are health care CEOs in the fight against gun violence?

  • Michael Dowling: Gun violence is a public health crisis and health care CEOs need to take action to help end these senseless acts.
  • Read more



Call to action for health care leaders

“The sound of screaming babies (wounded or killed by gunshots) in my trauma center continues to haunt me,” said Sheldon Teperman, MD, director of trauma and critical care services at New York City Health + Hospitals’ Jacobi Medical Center, a long-time advocate for assault-weapon bans and other gun reform legislation. “My voice was not loud enough to bring about change, but the health care community as a whole has broad shoulders.”

The conference drew representatives from more than 100 health systems, and medical and health trade organizations across the country, mostly from outside the New York area. To continue the momentum from Thursday’s conference, Northwell will be reaching back out to attendees to organize workgroups on education, prevention, advocacy, research, and other areas, to report progress on their efforts at a follow-up conference next year.






In the meantime, Mr. Dowling called on conference attendees and other health care leaders to pledge their support for change by signing on to a call to action that will lay the foundation for the public health education/awareness campaign on gun violence.

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