The concept of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health was developed in 1732 when the Philadelphia Almshouse began to provide free hospital care to the poor. According to the City of Philadelphia (2010), the Department of Public Health protects health and promotes healthy lifestyles for all Philadelphians. The Department of Public Health “provides services, set policies, and enforce laws that support the dignity of every man, woman, and child in Philadelphia” (City of Philadelphia, 2010). There are thirteen divisions of the department that are responsible for providing patient services related to those divisions. Each of the division has a primary focus to use to remain on task to achieve the goals of the division.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2011), there are three core functions relating to public health. The three core functions are assessment, policy development, and assurance. Each core function has related essential services that are necessary for each function to be completed. One of the divisions of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health is Disease Control. There are seven services of Disease Control which include acute communicable disease control, bioterrorism and public health preparedness, epidemiology, immunization, sexually transmitted disease control, tuberculosis control, and data and reports. Each of these services work together to assess the spread of disease (including the amount and types of diseases spread), researches ways to control disease processes, develops and implements public health plans to control the spread of disease, and provides information based on the recorded observations to both the health care and public populations.
Reassurance is provided to the population by relaying information via media, health bulletin, and public service announcements regarding disease processes, control, and prevention. There are eight health centers operated by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health that provide care to neighborhood patient populations. These centers accept insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and uninsured patient population. Basic outpatient and acute care services, medical management, checkups, women’s health, counseling, lab work, and social work support are all provided by the centers.
This additional care allows the burden of care to be shared in the community and not just at the local hospital. When patients register for appointments they have the option to see the same physicians to provide continuity of care for each visit. There are also many federally funded clinics in operation according to the City of Philadelphia (2010). The clinics also work with the local health centers and hospital to provide care to the area residents.
Influencing Hospital Setting
Public health has directly affected the many things in the hospital setting since its development. The control of infectious diseases is a direct response to the development of public health initiatives. According to the Association of Schools of Public Health (2012), education for both health care workers and general population to increase sanitation has significantly increased reduction of the spread of infectious diseases. Today assessing and monitoring hand washing technique is frequently done hospital wide to prevent spread of infection. Education is provided continually for patients and health care providers as well as reporting of hand washing monitoring statistics related to facility hand washing reports. Continual reassurances of the benefits of hand washing are shared in staff meetings, facility conferences, and performance reviews by administration and management.
Risk factor modification for blood pressure control has proven beneficial in decreasing coronary artery disease and stroke mortality rates reports the Association of Schools of Public Health (2012). Public awareness of genetic factors has been promoted via public service announcements, blood pressure/diabetes screenings, and hospital awareness newsletters. Hospitals have incorporated coronary artery disease and stroke awareness into programs to reduce stroke and myocardial infarction mortality rates. Many facilities have added to the awareness by adding public health fairs to promote risk factor awareness, disease prevention, and health promotion.
Role of Public Health Workers
“Public health professionals try to prevent problems from happening or re-occurring through implementing educational programs, developing policies, administering services, regulating health systems and some health professions, and conducting research, in contrast to clinical professionals, such as doctors and nurses, who focus primarily on treating individuals after they become sick or injured” (Association of Schools of Public Health ,2012). Public health workers can be anyone from a physician to the sanitation worker. Public health workers are responsible for the duties they were trained for professionally as well as collecting data, discovering resources, provides, emotional support, plans for preparedness for disasters, provides education, and provides organization to work toward positive outcomes using the information gathered and plans developed.
Researchers, for example, gather the information and collect surveys to assess the public’s health care needs. The information is used to determine the changes that need to be made as well as the public education that has to be provided. Social needs are also addressed by social workers and counselors to provide support and reassurance. Providig reassurance allows many to feel that their questions and concerns will be addressed. Follow up surveys may also be used to assess the education process and obtain long term feedback from the population addressed.
Public health is a demanding but fulfilling job for many individuals who work together for the good of society. Continually assessing the needs of the communities allows disease processes to be defined and investigated appropriately to gauge its danger to the surrounding population. Researching and developing plans for controlling the disease process allows educational pieces to be developed to relay to the population to provide reassurance of a possible solution or changes that must be made to avoid the disease process all together. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has a large population to provide services to. The Divisions assist by breaking down services into manageable parts to be assessed and developed individually. Working together with local hospitals and clinics provides continuity of care between services while receiving education to better the city for future residents.
Association of Schools of Public Health. (2012). The 20th century’s ten great public health achievements in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.whatispublichealth.org/impact/achievements.html Centers for Disease control and Prevention. (2011, May 25). Core functions of public health and how they relate to the ten essential services. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/ephli/core_ess.htm City of Philadelphia. (2010). Public health city of Philadelphia life liberty and you. Retrieved
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