There are many lenses through which to view health. As you would expect, medical providers typically focus on the health of individual patients. For example, doctors consider a person’s symptoms, their current lifestyle, their past medical history, and their family’s history to diagnose medical conditions and recommend treatments.
The Public Health Perspective
Public health professionals look beyond the health of an individual and instead focus on the health of an entire community or population of people. They strive to achieve “the greatest good for the greatest number.” As the CEO of a health system, I feel fortunate to have education and training in both medicine and public health.
As Renown Health’s leader, it is my responsibility to care for the people and communities we serve. That involves bringing world-class staff and innovative medical care to northern Nevada. We also focus on prevention by looking for ways to improve health outside of our facilities. That means partnering with local organizations to address the social, economic, and environmental factors that shape our health. Or working with local government to create policies that help to prevent disease and injury. In order to make a genuine and long-lasting impact on health, we must foster a community that helps our neighbors live well.
Public health is especially important during times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic that we’re experiencing now. During these times, health systems must be able to swiftly shift focus from prioritizing the needs of individual patients to considering what is best for our local population. For example, we may need to temporarily limit hospital visitors or educate the public about how to socially distance in order to stop the spread of disease. Being prepared to make this shift and having strong relationships with our local health department and community organizations help us better serve the public.
In both good times and bad, I am thankful that my public health background provides me with the perspective to look beyond our health system and embrace the health our community