Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling. (Northwell Health photo)

Northwell Health announced this week the creation of a Center for Gun Violence Prevention to help shape the role that the health system and others like it can play in advancing safety, education, prevention, and research.

The initiative is part of Northwell’s ongoing effort to spur national debate on the need for healthcare leaders to help curtail the nearly 40,000 firearms-related deaths that occur annually in the U.S.

“I firmly believe that health care leaders have a social responsibility to try to stop the mindless bloodshed caused by firearms-related violence in this country, just as we respond aggressively to health crises like vaping, the flu or the new coronavirus that is causing worldwide panic,” Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling said Wednesday.

During the Gun Violence Prevention Forum that Northwell hosted two months ago in Manhattan, Dowling pledged $1 million to support gun safety efforts and called for other large health systems to match his financial commitment.

Northwell’s new Center for Gun Violence Prevention is headed by Dr. Chethan Sathya, a pediatric surgeon and associate trauma medical director at Cohen Children’s Medical Center. The team includes Dr. Thomas McGinn, Northwell’s deputy physician-in-chief, and Dr. Jose Prince, vice chair of surgery at Northwell Health and director of the Laboratory of Pediatric Injury and Inflammation at The Feinstein Institutes’ Center for Immunology and Inflammation.

Serving on an advisory committee that will guide the new interdisciplinary center are  Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Gun Violence Prevention Founder Dr. Peter Masiakos, American College of Physicians President Dr. Robert McLean, Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research Director Dr. Daniel Webster, AFFIRM Research Chief Research Officer Dr. Megan Ranney, and Dr. Mark Rosenberg, former head of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Our goal is to build a blueprint for how health systems across the nation can reduce gun violence and promote gun safety,” said Dr. Sathya. “If we can develop a successful gun violence prevention strategy internally, it will serve as an example for other health systems and industries to follow suit. We want to lead the charge on this and show others that meaningful change is possible and that lives can be saved.”

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