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We're Asking Healthcare to Fix Something it Didn't Break

When we talk about creating a healthy society, we're not talking about healthcare. Healthcare is what we need when we've failed to keep people healthy. So where do we start? We start upstream. The article below challenges us to consider why we're still asking healthcare to fix something it didn't break in the first place. 


"Health care has long been in the business of treating the negative health effects of bad social policy. When there isn't enough safe affordable housing, when sanitary codes are unenforced and when cuts are made to housing voucher programs, doctors treat people for the injuries and asthma that ensue. When people live in food deserts without access to healthy food, or their SNAP applications are wrongfully denied, nurses help patients manage the low blood sugar episodes for diabetics who are hungry. And health care spends a lot of money doing it.

Now more than ever, with the prevention mandates of health reform, we are asking health care to be in the business of preventing illness. That's a tall order when so much of what makes people sick are underenforced laws and policies, underfunded public programs and ill-conceived public policies way outside the scope of what health care professionals are trained to do. Indeed research shows that only about fifteen percent of preventable illness can be improved with access to better medical care alone."

"We have to consider the health of individuals and our communities in every conversation and every policy about housing, education and food. We can't just expect health care to clean up the aftermath of whatever we decide."

Continue reading this article here: Ellen Lawton and Megan Sandel, "We're Asking Healthcare to Fix Something it Didn't Break," Huffington Post, June 6th, 2014. 


Follow Ellen Lawton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ellawton

Co-authored by Megan Sandel, MD, MPH; Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health; Medical Director of National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership; @megansandel

Connect upstream.