Almost everyone is dealing with a range of challenges during this current pandemic. There are many people who are more vulnerable, have extra concerns, or are managing difficult situations for a variety of reasons. Those of us who have children with disabilities face some unique issues. I recently co-wrote an article about this topic with a friend of mine and collaborator who is a pediatrician. We both have a child with disabilities and thought it was important to present this perspective. The article was published by Scary Mommy this weekend. You can read it by clicking here.
We are all hearing the term public health a lot lately. What does it mean?
The American Public Health Association is the main professional organization for people working in public health. They state that “Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play.” Health care providers such as doctors, nurses, physical therapists and dentists treat individuals. The focus is on diagnosing a medical problem and providing a treatment for it. People working in public health focus on many people. We think about how we can improve the health of an entire community or group. We look at causes of health problems and how we can change laws, the environment, communities, or organizations to improve the health of many. For example, people working in public health might help identify a cancer cluster in a location and then try to determine what the cause is.
For now, if you want to learn more about public health in general, take a look at this 5 minute video. Note the car crash example. If someone gets hurt in a crash, a doctor is the one who treats the injuries. People working in public health think about issues like whether the person is able to get the care they need, driving laws, road safety, and if the person has enough social support to help with their recovery.
In future blog posts, I will introduce you to different areas of public health and discuss how each one plays a role in addressing COVID-19. Some examples are health policy, epidemiology, community health, and my favorite, health communication.
Tuesday I had to stop by my office and was greeted by an empty hallway. It was eerily quiet. And then it hit me. I may not see any of you in-person for a while, and I may not get to celebrate graduation with you this year.
Some of you may be feeling anxious about how you will complete your classes, independent studies, or internships. Know that I am available to help you navigate through these challenges. Some of you may be feeling sad that you have to leave campus especially if you are a senior. This is not how you expected the end of your senior year to go after all of your hard work. I understand! If you are having trouble focusing on getting work done, know that you are not alone. I am too! We are all juggling many things right now, dealing with different challenges, and managing a lot of unknowns. Remember that we are part of a community and people are here to help.
I know many of my current and former students are working in the field. If you are with the federal government, or state or county health departments, know that you are making significant contributions to the public health response. If you are a health care provider, know that everyone appreciates what you are doing right now. Many of you are putting yourselves at risk to help others who are sick and for that we are incredibly grateful. Some of you may be doing work that is important in other ways. Thank you!
And if you are wondering what you can do to help, there is always a need for people to promote clear and accurate information among their social networks. Help people understand what they need to do and why. As a current or former public health student, you are lucky to have a unique insight into what is going on. Whether it is health communication, epidemiology, health policy, or other public health fields, all aspects of public health are playing a role in addressing the current pandemic caused by COVID-19.
Please take care of yourself and know you are in my thoughts. Practice social distancing if you can while staying engaged with your social networks, take social media and news breaks, and reach out if you need help finding resources.
As someone who studies and teaches about health communication, I have always been interested in finding ways to give people clear and useful information about public health. I have seen a lot of people become interested in public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. And since I am mostly home these days, I thought it was a good time to try out a blog! For this first blog post, I want to let people know what the blog is about.
What is GetHealth'e' and why is the blog on this site?
Get Health'e' means to "get health literate using 'e'lectronic tools". I have been working for a while on creating ways to help people improve their health literacy. I created the GetHealth'e' website as a way to teach people about health literacy and provide links to good resources. I also started a YouTube channel that is a work in progress. And I have been seeking funding to create online classes that people can take. Please let me know if you have ideas about other things you would like to see on the site!
What can you expect to see in this blog?
I will be spending a lot of time at least for now talking about COVID-19. Learning about public health in general is also important to understand the pandemic and the response to it so expect to see posts about public health. I will link to news stories about health and discuss what they mean, and also plan to have my public health friends write guest blog posts. And you will probably see posts about my classes, media, my family, my big fluffy cat, and fun memes and videos.
Thanks for reading! Please let me know if you have questions you want me to try to answer or if there are topics you want to know more about. I look forward to giving this a try...wish me luck!