Some of the doctors were involved because they had kids at Sandy Hook school that day. Some, like my friend and colleague Dr. William Begg (above video), were in the Emergency Department receiving victims or, like myself, were involved in helping with the emergency response. Many of us had patients and patient families directly affected. All of us know affected families, who are our friends and neighbors.
As part of the response, the doctors who live and work in Newtown have organized into a group, the United Physicians of Newtown, whose goal is to decrease the violence that has taken our children.
I am a member of the group but not its spokesperson. But I can say that all the members feel a special responsibility because of where we work and live to do what we can to decrease violent acts like that which occurred on 12/14.
UPoN has issued a position statement that involves four key areas:
• Mental Health
• Culture of Violence
More specifics can be found just below the fold.
The full position statement can be found on the UPoN website and reads as follows:
We physicians, who have had ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbors and our patients directly impacted by the shootings put forth the following recommendations:This is not a fundraising appeal. The goal of the group is to do what we can to foster the above principles, understanding that any one area is insufficient without the others.
• To promote funding for research and education concerning firearm injury and death.
• To rescind the restriction on federal institutions (CDC, NIH, NIJ) pursuing research on violence prevention.
• To create a comprehensive national firearm injury database.
II. Mental Health
• To promote immediate access to mental health services which is affordable, effective and supportive.
• To enact reforms to reduce the risk encumbered by mental health providers in caring for mentally ill individuals at risk for violent behavior.
• To encourage effective legislative measures for adjudicating disputes between patients’ right to refuse and their need for treatment.
• To advocate for financial resources dedicated to mental health.
III. Culture of Violence
• To foster a comprehensive initiative to change societal norms that currently glorify guns and violence in the media and gaming.
• To promote health care providers’ ability to discuss patients’ exposure to firearms and violence.
• To require firearm safety including gun locks and safes.
To support comprehensive, universal background checks for the purchase of firearms and ammunition.
• To prohibit the access of firearms and ammunition to high-risk individuals.
• To endorse legislation banning civilian access to assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.
As members, we believe that all of the local, state and national medical organizations and elected officials should make this a top priority and should use their platform to promote awareness and enact real change to reverse this worsening epidemic.
Some of our members will interact with media, some will testify at various conferences and hearings, but all will work locally and elsewhere to do what we can to help our neighbors now in any way we can, and work to avoid needing to do it ever again.
In coming days, I hope to interview some of the key group members [an interview with the founder and chairman of the group will be published Sunday], but for now consider this an information post by way of introduction.