PeaceHealth Medical Group (PHMG) and Yeager’s Sporting Goods have teamed with the National Shooting Sport Foundation (NSSF) and the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office to protect members of our community from accidents and incidents involving firearms. The collaborative partnership equips PHMG doctors with free gun safety resources and locks to give to local families.
The firearm safety initiative is a community health matter for PeaceHealth providers. Peter Filuk, MD, a pediatrician at PeaceHealth Medical Group’s Bellingham clinic, explained, “This is a common sense, practical way to address a piece of equipment that can cause harm.” Dr. Filuk likened the use of gun locks to other recommended safety protocols for parents, such as covering electrical outlets or avoiding leaving keys in one’s car.
The Washington State Department of Health reported that 3,038 Washington state residents, including 191 children ages 19 and younger, died from gun injuries between 2009 and 2013 (averaging 607 per year). Firearm accidents are overall on the decline, but John “Westy” Westerfield, vice president and general manager of Yeager’s Sporting Goods, reported that there’s still progress to be made. “The only acceptable number of firearm accidents is zero,” he said.
Westerfield presented an initial supply of 150 sets of gun safety educational materials and 150 gun locks to PeaceHealth pediatricians on Tuesday, Nov. 1. To be distributed at PeaceHealth clinics in Bellingham, Burlington and Friday Harbor, the gun safety kits teach parents and children how to properly handle and secure firearms in their homes.
Westerfield stressed his personal and professional commitment to firearm safety. “It’s the right thing to do,” he said. “We’ve read enough reports of someone being hurt or killed by inappropriate or unauthorized use of a firearm, and we want to put a stop to it.” The gun safety materials will be restocked and shared on an ongoing basis.
The firearm safety kits are made possible by NSSF’s Project ChildSafe program. More about Project Childsafe can be found at www.projectchildsafe.org.
PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, which includes a not-for-profit full-service hospital founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, is part of the PeaceHealth system with medical centers in Alaska, Washington and Oregon. In addition to the hospital and PeaceHealth Medical Group, PeaceHealth’s services in Bellingham include comprehensive cardiology, oncology, orthopedic and rehabilitation services, a diagnostic laboratory, and a joint venture outpatient imaging service. In Northwest Washington, PeaceHealth additionally operates critical access hospitals in Sedro-Woolley and Friday Harbor.