It sure was refreshing to read last week’s newspaper referencing Pioneers Medical Center’s CEO, Ken Harman’s thoughts about the role of prevention in healthcare.
The most frustrating thing as a clinician is treating a patient for what should be a simple problem, but with co-morbidities making the real cure elusive. Co-morbidities like obesity, diabetes, COPD, CHF, illicit drug use and the social morbidity of poverty makes treating something simple like tennis elbow daunting, if not impossible. Where do you start? How did the situation get so out of control?
The “what if’s” start crawling in your ear… What if this patient learned healthy eating habits as a child? What if they were raised to be active and flee from sedentary leisure pursuits? What if their mothers were committed to breastfeeding? What if they learned the benefits of delayed gratification and goal setting? What if high academic standards were reinforced? What if self-reliance and work ethic became a part of this patient’s identity? What if this patient learned healthy ways to manage stress as a child? Had these things happened, tendonitis would be a simple fix for the clinician instead of an incurable symptom of a health and social train wreck far too often seen in today’s clinics and hospitals. Did you ever hear “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” or a “Stitch in time, saves nine?”
Does it sound like I am touting the positives of an efficient and effective public health, extension services, faith community, education and hospital system? Yes, and I can’t wait to tell you why!
Julie L. Drake