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State health care systems declare gun violence a public health emergency

"At Hennepin Healthcare, as both a level one trauma center for adults and pediatrics, we have seen over a 50% increase in the past two years."

MINNEAPOLIS — Following back-to-back mass shootings across the country, healthcare leaders in Minnesota are sounding off — on what they're calling a "public health crisis."

"What we are seeing is alarming numbers in healthcare, in particular, across our local community, state and nation, that shows trauma levels going up year over year," said Jennifer DeCubellis, CEO of Hennepin Healthcare. "At Hennepin Healthcare, as both a level one trauma center for adults and pediatrics, we have seen over a 50% increase in the past two years, in penetrating trauma which includes gunshot wounds, stabbings, self-inflicted, but it's an alarming trend, and it's not a blip in time, it really is a trend."

DeCubellis says as health care providers, staff see the impacts of gun violence firsthand.

"As health care workers, it has an impact on us as well," she said. "We see that violence entering into our door at alarming rates, and several incidents in healthcare environments, we have additional pressure in making sure we protect our team members," she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 19,000 people in the U.S. were killed due to homicides involving a gun in 2020. That same year, guns became the leading cause of death for children and teenagers.

The U.S. is now on pace to match or surpass its worst year on record for the number of mass shootings, according to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive.

So far this year, there have been over 240 mass shootings.

As for Hennepin Healthcare, DeCubellis says they're focused on solutions.

"We've got a Next Step program which is a violence prevention program. We have expanded that year after year, its operating in other health systems as well," she said. "We know access is critical, when someone is in a crisis, that them getting the right services and support is essential to getting ahead of what could become a violent action."

She says while policy and legislative changes are crucial, it's a collective responsibility to work toward solutions.

"How do we do a collective call for action, how do we all put our resources, time, energy together," said DeCubellis.

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