Kaiser Permanente commits $25M to preventing gun violence

Steven Loeb · January 30, 2023 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/5610

The company established its Center for Gun Violence Research and Education last year

So far in 2023, there have been more mass shootings, which are defined as incidents where multiple people are simultaneously killed or injured using a firearm, than there have been days of the year. This past weekend alone there were five of them, including one in California in which three people were killed, and one in North Carolina where six people were injured. Every year, on average, 40,000 people die from from gun violence in America.

Beyond the obvious trauma of people being killed, there's also an economic impact: gun violence costs the country $557 billion a year, or about 2.6% of GDP. That includes both the immediate costs, like police investigations and medical treatment, as well as the long-term physical and mental health care, and the cost estimates of quality of life lost for those who survive.

In the wake of all of this, Kaiser Permanente has stepped up, recently announcing a $25 million commitment over the next five years to its Center for Gun Violence Research and Education, which it established this past June.

The company says the money will go toward expanding and scaling its prevention research efforts, more public and professional education programs, and evidence-backed community initiatives, hospital-based violence intervention programs. The idea is to identify patients at risk of repeated violent injury and link them resources that identify and address the underlying risk factors for violence.

The center's stated goal is to reduce the incidence and impact of gun violence, including intimate partner violence and suicide, in the U.S. 

"The center will work to address the emotional and psychological trauma related to the aftermath of shootings and will focus on the profound disparate impact that gun violence has had in communities of color. It will also provide strong leadership and collaboration with health care providers, community-based organizations, and businesses seeking to participate in solutions that will have a measurable impact on the gun violence epidemic," the company said at the time. 

There are three parts to the center's mission, the first being research efforts, which are focused on solutions and interventions to gun violence, and the long-term psychological consequences.

It also includes education efforts, which inform the public, health care stakeholders, businesses, policymakers, and community-based organizations about the role they can play in reducing gun violence and the consequences of gun violence, and innovation efforts, with a focus on public health and health care processes, policies, and intervention models to prevent gun shootings.

The center also doles out money to organizations focused on addressing gun violence through grants, which are distributed through Kaiser Permanente's fund at the East Bay Community Foundation.

The center, which was initially funded with $1.3 million, included collaboration with nonprofit organizational partners; along with this new funding, the company also unveiled a new partnership with the Health Alliance for Violence Intervention (HAVI), an initiative which builds and connects violence intervention programs and promotes equity for victims of violence. Going forward, HAVI will co-lead the Center for Gun Violence Research and Education.

HAVI was among the center's initial grant recipients, along with the Ad Council, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Big Cities Health Coalition, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, RAND Corporation, University of California, Davis, and University of California, San Diego. 

“As the leading health care organization serving the health needs of more than 12 million people in America, Kaiser Permanente is compelled to find and implement solutions to gun violence,” Greg A. Adams, Kaiser Permanente chair and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

“While our teams treat the physical wounds, the disabilities, and the psychological aftermath of gun violence on a daily basis, the best possible outcome of our work would be to learn how to prevent gun-related injuries in the first place.” 

Kaiser's efforts around funding gun violence prevention began in 2018, when it invested $2 million in research involving doctors and other professionals at its hospitals and health centers around the U.S.

Kaiser is not the only company in the healthcare space to have made moves to help prevent gun violence: Northwell Health, which established the Center for Gun Violence Prevention, was awarded $1.4 million from the National Institutes of Health in 2020 as part of its “We Ask Everyone. Firearm Safety is a Health Issue” research study, which aims to shift the view gun violence to being a public health issue.

(Image source: pahouse.com)

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