Public health is one of the core foundations of a healthy community. Public health is important because it helps prevent the spread of communicable diseases. It also educates the public on how to achieve individual health. Through its programs, public health bridges a gap due to poverty—allowing infants and mothers to have access to nutritious food. Simply put, the purpose of public health is to serve communities; it is a service industry. Local health departments do an excellent job at serving. Through clinical and environmental services, we invest in the lives of our neighbors and friends. Local health departments are truly local organizations.
As a child that greatly benefited from the services offered by local health departments, I can attest that the programs are vital; they truly change people’s lives. However, over the course of this pandemic, public health has been falsely accused of being intermingled in the sphere of politics, agendas and conspiracy theories.
From the inside looking out, I cannot fathom how people believe that we operate on a political agenda. I know, based on internal insight, that employees of LHDs have their own unique beliefs, political views—yet that doesn’t cause an issue because we all unite under the common purpose of service. None of us show up to work to spread an agenda for a political candidate. Instead, we show up to serve. That’s how we are wired—and that’s what makes us happy.
I have considered how I might feel when I close my eyes and say goodbye to this world—hopefully many years from now. I have envisioned what things I will regret—and what things will make me smile. The thing that matters to me the most is that I have impacted the lives of others. If I were to ask employees at any health department, I am sure that they would have a similar desire; the desire to know that they made a difference.
I’d like to encourage the community to see the health department for what it does, how it changes lives, how it contributes to society. There are so many reasons to be divided. However, for those of us that wish to unite, we can always find common ground in service—and that’s why the majority of us work in public health.