59 Tristate Hospitals Unite for “It Doesn’t Kill to Ask” Child Gun Safety Campaign

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With firearms remaining the leading cause of injury and death in children, the nation’s largest regional collaboration of health systems, representing 59 hospitals in Philadelphia, Southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and Southern New Jersey, is kicking off the year with a public service campaign that encourages a community approach to protecting children from unlocked guns.

HospitalsTogether.com is the new name and website for the coalition’s ongoing multi-media campaign called “It Doesn’t Kill to Ask.” The campaign empowers caregivers, parents and community members to speak up about safe gun storage in homes a child might visit, providing actionable tools and new resources to aid in the process. Research and data show the importance of asking about unlocked guns where children may be present and that gun safety requires a comprehensive approach to prevention, including community education, outreach and advocacy.

A fundamental part of prevention is normalizing conversations about gun storage. The campaign comes at a time when an average of 13 children die from guns every day, making guns the leading cause of death in children in the U.S. According to Brady United Against Gun Violence, nearly 5 million children live in homes with unlocked or unsupervised guns, and last year there were at least 377 unintentional shootings by children resulting in 145 deaths.

In Philadelphia, newly elected Mayor Cherelle Parker has declared a citywide public safety emergency, calling for comprehensive plans to address the most difficult public health issues facing our communities today, including gun safety.

Through a refreshed series of broadcast, print and digital public service educational messages, along with the newly launched HospitalsTogether.com website, the campaign highlights that access to unlocked guns may lead to death, suicide and violence, making it more likely children will die from guns than cancer or automobile accidents. The website provides tips on how to have a conversation with other parents and families about safely stored firearms and encourages making this conversation as normal as asking about pets or food allergies before a playdate.

The tristate health systems represent the nation’s largest regional collaboration addressing critical public health issues on an ongoing basis. Together, they are committed to tackling the most difficult public health issues that often result in serious and avoidable health consequences and offering messages of prevention and safety, hope and healing. The founding members of HospitalsTogether.com, along with their hospitals, thousands of outpatient sites and hundreds of thousands of physicians, nurses and other clinical and support staff, are dedicated to making a positive difference in the health of their communities.

Given the importance of the gun safety public service message across the region, these hospitals and health systems are united in facing this crisis together. They first came together in 2020, when encouraging masking during the pandemic and leading other efforts to help protect public health in local communities. Most recently, they decided to formalize their efforts with the new name for their collaboration and website, calling their collaboration HospitalsTogether.com to demonstrate their commitment to joining forces for the public good.

Impetus for the “It Doesn’t Kill to Ask” campaign and other public service campaigns comes from over 100 healthcare marketing and communications executives meeting regularly for over a decade, sharing knowledge, experience, best practices and resources, knowing they can accomplish more together. Founded and led by national healthcare leader Rhoda Weiss, Ph.D., the expanded coalition partnered with Northwell Health, New York State’s largest health system, in leading the gun safety effort.

About Us: HospitalsTogether.com unites organizations from throughout the tri-state region to create awareness of ongoing public health crises. Health systems in the collaborative include Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, ChristianaCare, Jefferson Health, Main Line Health, Nemours Children’s Health, Penn Medicine, Prime Healthcare, Redeemer Health, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Temple Health, Tower Health, Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic and Virtua Health. Together they represent 59 area hospitals, tens of thousands of community-based outpatient programs and hundreds of thousands of physicians, nurses and other clinical and support staff and volunteers.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP): CHOP and Gun Safety

SpokespersonJoel Fein, MD, MPH, Co-Director of the Center for Violence Prevention

Media Contact: Joey McCool Ryan; McCool@chop.edu

(267) 258-6735

ChristianaCare: ChristianaCare.org.

Spokesperson: David D. Chen, MD, MPH, Medical Director for Empowering Victims of Lived Violence (EVOLV), Physician-Scientist, Institute for Research on Equity and Community Health

Media ContactRequest an interview

Jefferson Health: JeffersonHealth.org/PreventViolence

Spokesperson: Elizabeth Datner, MD, FACEP, Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Jefferson Einstein Hospitals

Professor, Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University

Media Contact: Damien Woods, damien.woods@Jefferson.edu; 267-324-8823 

Main Line Health: mainlinehealth.org

Spokesperson: Jack Lynch III, FACHE, President and CEO

Media Contact: Phil Ellingsworth, Jr, ellingsworthph@mlhs.org; 484-580-1182

Nemours Children’s Health

Spokespeople: Kara Odom Walker, MD, MPH, MSHS, Executive Vice President, Chief Population Health Officer, Nemours Children’s Health, and Meghan Walls, PsyD, Director, Delaware Valley External Affairs, Nemours Children’s Health 

Media Contact: Che Parker, che.parker@nemours.org; 302-593-7011

Penn Medicine: Penn Injury Science Center

SpokespersonZachary Meisel, MD, MPH, MSHP, Professor of Emergency Medicine, Co-Director of the University of Pennsylvania Injury Science Center

Media Contact: Kelsey Geesler, Kelsey.Geesler@pennmedicine.upenn.edu, (215) 300-1194  

Prime Healthcare Pennsylvania Region

Spokesperson: Darshan Shawn Parekh, PharmD, MHA, FACHE, CEO of Roxborough Memorial Hospital 

Media Contact: Michelle Aliprantis, MBA | Regional Director of Marketing and Communications, PA Region | Roxborough Memorial Hospital | Suburban Community Hospital | Lower Bucks Hospital, MAliprantis@primehealthcare.com; T: (215) 785-9817 | C: (610) 348-5726

Redeemer Health

Spokesperson: Kisha Martin, MD, Medical Director, Emergency Department

Media Contact: Rich Leonowitz, Rleonowitz@RedeemerHealth.org; 267-353-2034

St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Spokesperson: Don Mueller, FACHE, President and CEO

Media Contact: Paul Healy, paul.healy@towerhealth.org; 215-776-4277 

Temple Health: templesafetynet.org

Spokesperson: Scott P. Charles, MAPP, Trauma Outreach Manager, (215)868-4658

Media Contact: Jeremy Walter, Jeremy.Walter@tuhs.temple.edu

Tower Health

Spokesperson: Christopher Valente, MD, Chief, Section of Pediatric Emergency Medicine and Vice Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine 

Media Contact: Jessica Bezler, jessica.bezler@towerhealth.org; 717-380-4319

Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic

Spokesperson: Burt Blackstone, DO, chair of Trauma at St. Mary Medical Center

Quoc T. Vu, MD, trauma surgeon 

Media Contact: Mary Wascavage, mary.wascavage@mercyhealth.org ; T 610-886-6706­ C 610-662-5789

Virtua Health: virtua.org

Spokesperson: Dennis W. Pullin, President and CEO

Media Contact: Daniel Moise, dmoise@virtua.org; 610-781-7765

Contact: Joey McCool Ryan, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, (267) 258-6735 or mccool@chop.edu

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