24 Jun, 2022, 10:00 ET
Gunshot Wounds are the Leading Cause of Death in Young People Under Age 20 at Region's Largest Health System
HOUSTON , June 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Memorial Hermann Health System is proud to issue a public pledge to its community this week, committing to be part of the solution when it comes to the issue of gun violence by tackling two specific areas of need: mental health resources and gun safety.
"Gun violence is a national public health emergency," said James J. McCarthy, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Physician Executive for Memorial Hermann, who is also a practicing board-certified emergency medicine physician. "In the last year, Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital – home to one of only two Level I pediatric trauma centers in the city – has treated 140 children, aged 18 and under, for gunshot wounds. That's a 75 percent increase from just three years ago."
A recent New England Journal of Medicine article reported that since 2017, firearm-related injuries have become the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the United States. At Memorial Hermann – home to one of the busiest Level I trauma centers – gunshot wounds are now the leading cause of death in those under 20.
"With the vast number of unspeakable tragedies that have recently taken place throughout the country, combined with the surge in cases we are seeing at our own system, we felt compelled to help drive change," said David L. Callender, M.D., President and CEO of Memorial Hermann. "Gun violence is a complex issue that will require a multi-pronged approach with multiple partners collaborating to address it. As the region's largest health system, we are committing to being part of the solution."
Memorial Hermann has defined two areas it can help address immediately. First, the system has pledged to further expand access to mental health care, with a special focus on children.
"Through innovative new partnerships, we are working to make mental health resources conveniently available to young people through their schools. Our goal is to make care accessible to as many as possible, whether in-person or virtual, at no cost to families," said Callender.
Currently, Memorial Hermann offers mental health resources to Greater Houston through free-standing mental health crisis clinics and health centers for schools. In addition, the system will be opening another school-based health center in Humble ISD later this year, and it plans to strengthen the mental health programs at its existing centers by adding additional licensed clinical social worker positions.
"Additionally, we know that we need to do more, from a public safety perspective, to reduce the risk of injury when it comes to gun safety," said McCarthy. "Too often, children are finding guns because their family members are not storing them safely in the house, making deadly weapons easily accessible to small hands."
Memorial Hermann announced it will soon begin distributing firearm safety kits to individuals and families in the Greater Houston area. Each kit will include a gun-locking device and instructions for safe gun handling and responsible storage.
"The goal over the next few months is to have thousands of these kits available for community members to pick up at locations across the city – free of charge, no questions asked," said McCarthy.
"Memorial Hermann is deeply invested in improving the health of all Houstonians, and we cannot do that until we get a handle on this growing epidemic of gun violence in our city and throughout the country," said Callender. "We all need to work together to do a better job protecting our fellow community members – and specifically our children to give them a chance at a safe and healthy future."
SOURCE Memorial Hermann Health System
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