HEALTH: Public vs. personal
Regarding the editorial “Health Board: Laugh until You Cry,” the assertion that the two medical professionals on the health board should not be replaced because their medical profession makes them invaluable to the board is absolutely wrong.
Medical professionals are trained and educated to deal with people and their health on an individual basis, which can clearly be a liability when dealing with a public health crisis. Public health professionals, conversely, are trained and educated to look at the bigger picture and the ramifications of large scale measures and recommendations which medical professionals are not trained to do.
Public health professionals know that the most important tools at their disposal with any large scale health issue are education and persuasion of the public. They must educate the public about the health issue and persuade them to follow their recommendations.
In dealing with the public, mandates of any kind are used only as a very last resort, because when that tool is used, it means that the public health officials have failed to educate and/or persuade the public of the urgency and need to follow the public health recommendations. Under those conditions, to then force the recommendations on the public inevitably leads to the loss of public trust and confidence.
Clearly the two medical professionals on the Panhandle Health board do not understand this, as they were the most insistent in using mandates, proving that their professions do not automatically make them suited to work in the public health arena.