Last week’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, hits far too close to home for someone like me with three school-age kids. We send our kids to school to learn, be social, and have fun with friends — not to have to potentially confront sheer horror that could await them.
But while this time it was a school, these tragic events have become far too commonplace and can happen anywhere. Recently, we’ve also seen killings at a grocery store in Buffalo and at a church in Orange County that have also made national headlines — and that’s just in the past month.
Each time a shooting happens, we scratch our heads and wonder how this could happen. Nowadays, it seems, gun violence can happen anytime, anyplace, in any setting.
According to the American Public Health Association, gun violence is a leading cause of premature death in the U.S., killing more than 38,000 people and causing nearly 85,000 injuries each year. But that’s not news to you. Your hospitals and health systems have a front seat to this epidemic and must respond all too regularly to the trauma caused by guns by delivering life-saving care to those victims who come through your doors.
While your hospitals are doing what you can to help stem the rising gun violence in your communities, guns are not the only thing you must contend with. Sometimes, violence comes to you.
Workplace violence is a growing safety issue in hospitals, one that’s only been made worse by the pandemic. With more volume, fewer staff, and visitors’ patience stretched thin by more than two years of mandates and restrictions, their frustration is often misdirected at those who are just trying to do their jobs. Pandemic or no pandemic, your employees have a right to be treated with dignity and respect — at all times — and should be able to do their jobs without being physically or verbally abused.
That’s why the American Hospital Association (AHA) is urging the Department of Justice to support legislation that would give health care workers the same legal protections against assault and intimidation as flight crews and airport workers have under federal law. Health care workers must be protected from the assault and intimidation that they experience, especially considering that health care and social service workers are five times as likely to get injured at work than workers overall and face the highest rates of workplace violence, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As part of their advocacy efforts on this issue, on June 3, AHA is joining hospitals across the country for the association’s sixth annual #HAVhope Friday. This national day of awareness is designed to unite hospitals, health systems, nurses, doctors, and other professionals on social media to highlight programs and other violence mitigation initiatives.
These senseless acts of violence have gone on for too long. Whether in our backyard or across the country, we must do all we can to protect the communities and the health care workers who care for those in their communities.