Denver Health recognizes the role our health system has in one of the fastest growing public health crisis. We have seen how gun violence affects our patients, our staff and our community.
- Gun violence is a public health issue that affects all of us. In 2020, Firearm deaths surpassed automobile deaths as the number one cause of death for children ages 0-19.
- At Denver Health, 43% of the gunshot wounds treated were to victims between the ages of 0-25.
- Since 2017, Denver Health has cared for 1,502 gunshot wound patients. More than 200 patients died from firearm-related injuries.
Denver Health Firearm Safety Collaborative
Denver Health is among hospitals leading the path forward by committing to take a comprehensive public health approach to firearm safety. Gun violence is a major public health problem and a leading cause of premature death. Beyond the broad prevention efforts happening through the Public Health Institute at Denver Health and our Community Health Centers including our School-based Health Centers, the Denver Health Firearm Safety Collaborative will focus on the following areas and initiatives:
Prevent firearm violence in our community. This group is building a comprehensive strategy across the entire health care system to highlight our commitment to create meaningful firearm safety awareness and impact.
Firearm Safety Collaborative Initiatives
Denver Health is active in the education of firearm safety and will continue to increase our presence in this work. The Denver Health Firearm Safety Collaborative includes teams working in the following areas:
- #HAVhope – recognized annually, #HAVhope focuses on how America’s hospitals and health systems address violence in their workplaces and communities. The intention of this campaign is to bring awareness to the issue at a community level.
- AIM – Established in 2010, Denver Health’s At-Risk Intervention and Mentoring (AIM), is a hospital-based violence intervention program using a public health approach to prevent and interrupt the cycle of violence at the bedside and in the community. AIM utilizes credible messengers to provide trauma-informed and culturally-responsive bedside interventions, mentorship, and intensive case management to youth ages 14–28 years who come to our emergency department after a traumatic injury.
- SAFER - SAFER is a grant-funded educational campaign helping inform patients and their families of the importance of safe and proper storage of firearms. In addition to the currently available firearm cable locks, firearm lock boxes will soon be available for distribution to patients in the Emergency Department, Psychiatric Emergency Services, inpatient units and outpatient clinics.
- Gun Shop Project - Funded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Gun Shop Project increases awareness of lethal means safety as a suicide prevention tool. The Public Health Institute at Denver Health partners with Colorado Firearm Community Sites in Denver County to discuss firearm suicide prevention and distribute Colorado Gun Shop Project materials to site managers and owners. For this project, “Colorado Firearm Community Sites” include: independently owned and operated firearm retailers with a storefront; indoor or outdoor shooting ranges; firearm safety, concealed carry, or marksmanship instructors; clubs, groups, or organizations focused on firearms, shooting or hunting; and military, veteran, law enforcement, or emergency responder-associated organizations.
- Zero Suicide - This initiative promotes best practices in suicide prevention across Denver Health. The Zero Suicide team has trained over 600 DH staff and received national recognition for their work in developing a public health suicide surveillance system with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The Zero Suicide team reviews suicide prevention policies, implements evidence-based suicide care, and promotes public-facing events to emphasize the roles we all have in reducing suicide.
- Voluntary, safe surrender of firearms – Denver Health is teaming up with Guns to Gardens, RAW Tools and Denver Public Safety’s Office of Community Violence Solutions to hold two events promoting the voluntary and safe surrender of firearms that will be turned into garden tools. The first event is Saturday, June 10, 2023 at Cure D’Ars Catholic Church in Parkhill from 10 a.m. – Noon.
- CEO Council on Gun Safety and Violence Prevention – Denver Health CEO Donna Lynne has signed on to participate in the National Health Care CEO Council on Gun Safety and Violence Prevention. Organized by Northwell Health’s Center for Gun Violence Prevention, CEOs from across the country are coming together to engage with practitioners and their communities to address gun violence as a public health risk. These collective efforts are intended to engage the health care sector in making progress on reducing firearm injuries and deaths. Over time, Denver Health will join other health care systems throughout the country to further address gun violence as a pressing public health issue.
Sharing what we learn
The Denver Health Firearm Safety Collaborative will track impact in the community and with our patients through research and data collection that will be shared through reports and presentations.