LVHN CEO and Lehigh University President weigh in on Regional Public Health Department
The Express-Times published an excellent editorial in today’s edition written by two local leaders, Elliot Sussman- CEO of Lehigh Valley Health Network, and Alice Gast- President of Lehigh University. In their article, Gast and Sussman stress the importance of public health infrastructure as a necessary component of creating healthy communities.
Gast and Sussman draw an important distinction between individual health–provided by hospitals and health care professionals– and public or community health–provided by public health infrastructure. They explain why each of these health services is so important to a community and why the Lehigh Valley needs to move forward with creating a bi-county public health department.
The focus of a public health department is to prevent illness and provide for community health. This includes population health (prevention of infectious diseases and homeland security) and environmental health (water supply, food safety). Hospitals and health care professionals who work inside hospitals are skilled at protecting individual health, providing care for individuals who are ill (heart attacks, cancer, newborns, etc.). Hospitals and doctors, working together with health systems, play a role in public and community health, but they cannot do it alone.
Here is the link to the full-text of the editorial: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2010/05/opinion_the_case_for_a_regiona.html