Ascension, Northwell CEOs call on healthcare sector, Congress to address gun violence

The CEOs of St. Louis-based Ascension and New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Health spoke out after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, left 31 people dead and about 50 injured Aug. 3 and 4.

In an Aug. 12 letter addressed to "fellow healthcare CEOs," Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell, wrote: "It is time for us to use our collective voice, the power of our lobby and the financial weight of the $3.5 trillion healthcare industry to combat the health crisis of gun violence in America. We should not take 'no' for an answer."

In April 2018, Mr. Dowling called on leaders to understand gun violence as a public health issue. He echoed a similar sentiment in his most recent letter, offering a step-by-step plan forward.

"Healthcare CEOs and the 18 million men and women who are part of the nation's healthcare workforce can be an incredibly powerful voice for change," he said. "To make that happen, we must become more politically active, but we need to avoid blatant partisanship."

Joseph Impicciche, who took over as president and CEO of Ascension July 1, likewise called on leaders to speak out against gun violence. "Silence in the face of such tragedy and wrongdoing falls short of our mission to advocate for a compassionate and just society," he said, requesting that readers ask elected officials to address gun violence.

"Some things to be considered include more research dollars to better understand the root causes of gun violence, mandatory criminal background checks for every purchase of a firearm, and greater investment in mental and behavioral health treatment, among other things," he said.

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