SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sanford Health President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Gassen joined nine other healthcare officials in Minnesota to release a statement declaring gun violence as a public health crisis.

“As leaders of some of our state’s health care systems, we believe it is time to declare gun violence as a public health crisis and to work to prevent the deaths of innocent people of all ages and backgrounds. We must look no further than the recent shootings on a hospital campus in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at a school in Uvalde, Texas, a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and countless others just this past year to see its devastating impacts,” said the statement released Wednesday by Minnesota HealthPartners.

CEOs from Allina Health, CentraCare, Children’s Minnesota, Essentia Health, Fairview Health Services, Gillette Children’s, HealthPartners, Hennepin Healthcare and North Memorial Health were part of the joined statement release.

The remainder of the statement is below:

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2020 more than 19,000 American lives were lost due to homicide involving a gun. That same year, guns became the leading cause of death for children and teenagers. These statistics are appalling and outrage us as health care providers and should outrage us all. Everyone deserves a world where they can feel safe and live their lives without fear of gun violence.

Gun violence and its horrific impacts are preventable. It has reached epidemic levels and represents a significant threat to public health.

As health care providers, we see the impacts of gun violence firsthand every day. We uniquely understand the devastation of this violence in our hospitals and clinics, and the toll it takes on individuals, families, communities and the care providers who treat the victims. We have an important role to play in creating a safer future for all.

We will continue to be fierce advocates for the safety of our employees, patients and the communities we serve, inside and outside our hospital and clinic walls. By formally declaring gun violence as the public health crisis that it is, we will collectively seek the solutions required to save lives and stem the tide of violence.”

According to Sanford Health’s website, the organization has a presence in 84 cities in Minnesota which include clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities.