Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Healthcare vs. “Sick” Care

“Since both in time and importance health precedes disease, so we ought to consider first how health may best be preserved, and then how one may best cure disease.” – Galen, 170 AD

This is one of my favorite quotes and one I often referred to concerning healthcare. GRMC provides a refuge for people in need of medical care. Our goal is always to heal people to their best possible health after an illness or injury. I am proud of the quality of care our team works hard to offer the communities we serve.

GRMC is in the “quality-of-life” business, in that our own personal health and wellbeing dramatically impacts our everyday lives. As the quote from Galen puts it, preserving health in the first place should be the number one priority.

Unfortunately, the healthcare system in this country has really been more of a “sick care” system. Too much emphasis has been on mending bodies after health has left them. We have shielded folks from the true cost of healthcare through the proliferation and misuse of health insurance. The personal responsibility for maintaining optimal health has not been incented in the system. Although a growing number of Americans are health conscious, it is hard to deny the obvious epidemic of poor health. Really troubling is the rise of childhood obesity, for example.

So what can be done to be more proactive in preserving health? I believe community hospitals can be a catalyst for health improvement and the quality of life for our citizens. In March 1997 with the help of Claude Ahrens, GRMC built the Paul W. Ahrens Fitness and Rehabilitation Center in the heart of our campus. It was our first really visible commitment to preventive health. Over the years we have built on this initiative with integrative health services at the Postels Community Health Park and Fly High Fitness Studio in downtown Grinnell for all our group exercise activities such as yoga, aerobics, Spinning®, and now Zumba®.

I truly cannot predict what the future of acute care medicine is going to look like for rural hospitals in America, but I do know our survival depends upon staying relevant to the community. People understand the importance of an easily accessible emergency department in their community for urgent healthcare after a car accident or with the onset of a heart attack. But hospitals are often considered only a place to go to be “fixed” when something is broken.

As hospitals, we can become more skilled in helping people stay healthy in the first place. If we can do this well, community hospitals will continue to be vital to the wellbeing of the community.

Stay tuned to future blog entries on health improvement topics, such as how we are working to strengthen our health coverage for our employees and our vision to create the healthiest community in America, a project we call “The Heart of Grinnell.”


Jane Sherwin said...

"As hospitals, we can become more skilled in helping people stay healthy in the first place." What a great idea. I'm guessing that in many cases it's less a matter of huge new infrastructure and more a matter of taking another look at your resources--then spreading the word.

Ben said...


I really appreciate your view on the future for hospitals in a community. As a public health undergraduate student soon to enter an MHA grad school, I espouse the same dream and hope to be a part of it.