I never read this Cherry Ames book.
It couldn’t possibly be as interesting as working in a hospital!
Nurses were supposed to work in hospitals! Where they would wear their cap! Why on earth would you want to do anything without your cap? Back in 1966 it was the sole reason I was planning nursing school!
(Cut me some slack, I was nine.)
Today, I am in the midst of studying public health. Yes, there is life outside the hospital.
But there was never a “Cherry Ames, Public Health Nurse”. Or so I thought. I was wrong. This is it. Here is the quote from Amazon.com:
Cherry, the only nurse assigned to an entire county, uncovers a phony folk medicine production operation using ginseng growing wild in swamp water tainted with harmful bacteria.
Whoa! This was written in 1961 and we have environmental pollution, the potential for infectious disease, pharmaceutical fraud and a million opportunities for patient education! I’d list all the public health nursing interventions involved, but I realize not everyone is as jazzed about public health nursing as I am at the moment.
Thanks to a colleague who gave me an entire collection of the Cherry Ames series, I have this book.
Time to read it!
I actually started this post one week ago – I hate when life gets in the way of blogging. It’s so bad I actually tell myself “I have to blog this!” in my dreams. Not blogging is just not acceptable. It’s like forgetting your underwear, you can’t shake the fact that something is missing! I shan’t allow it to happen again!
I’m not the only one who has been MIA – Change of Shift was supposed to be over at crzegrl.net last week, but she is also out of range at the moment! Hey Emily – make like ET and phone home! Maybe Grand Rounds did her in! Have no fear, the next Change of Shift will be right here next Thursday, so send in those nurse-related submissions!
And if you are in the mood for a great Wednesday carnival, Jenny has Patients for a Moment up at ChronicBabe! It’s a great edition – many, many submissions with fantastic topics. In fact, since I’m sitting here in Starbucks for the first time in ages, I’m gonna read them as soon as I finish this post!
I was part of the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism’s “Health and the Blogosphere” conference/brainstorming session last week. Bloggers and other health writers were invited to give input on a new professional training program, and I was honored to be a part of that group.
I took away so much more than I contributed. An unexpected focus (for me) was the idea of taking the blogosphere dialog about our own health (“my health”) and expanding that into a discussion about the health of our communities (“our health”).
But haven’t we’ve been doing that for the last year, health care reform having been debated ad nauseam?
We talk about access, the medical home and affording medical care. From screening to vaccinations to treatments for illness and the cost of prescriptions drugs, it’s all about keeping the individual healthy.
We are talking trillions-with-a-capital-T to reform our health care system.
With health care reform, access and education, life expectancy will increase and health disparities will be a thing of the past.
Our health care system looks to remedy problems. Fix them. Change behaviors. Treat illness. Educate.
Reform will mean that everyone is equal. Everyone has access. Everyone covered.
No more health disparities.
A noble and worthy goal.
But it doesn’t address the root cause of the majority of those disparities.
It matters where you live.
All the health care in the world means nothing if your housing is sub-standard, dilapidated and full of lead-based paint.
In neighborhoods full of empty lots and garbage.
All the health care in the world means nothing if you don’t have the means to purchase food (healthy or otherwise) because your job, if you have one, pays nothing and there are no grocery stores in your neighborhood, just liquor stores and fast food joints.
All the health care in the world means nothing if the crime rate in your neighborhood qualifies it as a war zone and you take your life in your hands just walking down the street.
And you can’t get a decent education because what little teaching actually goes on in your underfunded, understaffed neighborhood school is hard to retain when you are going to school hungry. Or watching your back.
It matters where you live.
We will never have true health care reform unless we deal concurrently with social inequities, specifically poverty.
It’s like putting a band-aid on a deficient immune system.
It looks good, but it isn’t really doing much for the patient.
For the record, this is not bleeding-heart “save the world” banter.
I’m not talking hand-outs and welfare that goes on for generations.
I’m talking about providing the basics, the tools that can help raise people out of poverty, the cause of health disparities.
Believe me, I’m all about “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps”.
But shouldn’t we make everyone has a pair of boots, first?
The inspiration for this post is a direct result of a presentation given at USC by Anthony Iton, M.D., J.D., MPH, Senior Vice President of Healthy Communities for the California Endowment: “Beyond Disease: Blogging on Obstacles to a Healthy Society”. Dr. Iton had been the director and county health officer for the Alameda County Public Health Department until September of 2009. I thought this slide was particularly impressive, so I’m including it here: