Essay: Community Health Problems Health Issues and Analysis

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Community Health Oklahoma

Modern healthcare is a rewarding, but challenging, career choice. The modern healthcare professional's role is not limited to only assisting the doctor in procedures, however. Instead, the contemporary professional takes on a partnership role with both the doctor and patient as advocate caregiver, teacher, researcher, counselor, and case manager. The caregiver role includes those activities that assist the client physically, mentally, and emotionally, while still preserving the client's dignity. In order for one to be an effective caregiver, the patient must be treated in a holistic manner. Proper communication and advocacy is another role that the modern caregiver assumes when providing quality care. The interconnection and synthesis of multidisciplinary nursing, for example, becomes critical, not just in the idea of achieving national goals (e.g. Healthy People 2010), but in judging the overall health of the nation (Kozier, Erb, & Blais, 1997).

There have certainly been numerous, and rather astounding improvements to the nation's health since the end of the 19th century. So many scientific advances have impacted the medical field, it is difficult to find the ones that have changed the health paradigm the most. The entire model of the way germs and public health are viewed changed during the last century. A merging of eastern and western thought occurred post-1960, and as the 21st century hit that combination formed a more robust, practical - less invasive template for healthcare. Aside from the technological innovations in microsurgery, assessment, chemistry, and genetic structures; the way a patient is viewed and the idea of holism in context is perhaps the defining star of the changes in pathology and treatment. However, this has not been without cost; there are new and more virulent diseases (HIV, etc.), and resistant bacteria to the plethora of pharmaceuticals now available. As populations live longer, trends in disease change, and the combination of a longer life and a less than healthy eating style contribute to massive killers like coronary disease, cancer, and even diabetes. We now know just how intertwined the world is, and how dangerous and interdependent modern disease vectors have become. The challenges of an aging population, though, change the way health professionals must look at their profession -- add to this the quality of life issues (e.g. we can keep people alive much longer, but at what cost), and the economics of healthcare, and the challenges seem immense.

Regional Issues (Oklahoma) - Oklahoma is located in the South Central region of the United States and is the 28th most populous state. Economically, it is a major producer of natural gas, oil, and agriculture; but its economy runs on aviation, energy, telecommunications and biotechnologies. Based primarily on a relatively inexpensive standard of living, it has one of the fastest growing economies in the nation in terms of per capita income growth and GDP. These figures, however, largely refer to Tulsa and Oklahoma City, in which 60% of the populous live (Oklahoma at a Glance, 2011).

Health wise, Oklahoma is a conundrum. It was the 21st largest recipient of medical funding from the federal government in 2005; almost $76 million in immunizations, bioterrorism preparedness and health education being the top areas of focus. However, the rest of the state ranks above the U.S. In the percentage of people with asthma, diabetes, cancer, and hypertension (Key Health Data- Oklahoma, 2011). Even Oklahoma's own Health Department acknowledges that strokes, heart disease, diabetes and chronic lower respiratory diseases are more prevalent in Oklahoma at higher than national average rates -- primarily because of the dual issues of obesity and tobacco use. These statistics, in fact, result in a much higher total mortality rate than for the rest of the nation (State Health Report, 2011).

Experts Interviewed- the following experts were interviewed for the study. Selection was based upon level of expertise, diversity of practice, and relevance to the community health organization (see Appendix a for Questionnaire):

Col Jennifer L. Bedick, she is Reynolds Army Community Hospital commander. She is ultimately in charge of our entire hospital is all health care aspects. She provides us with her view about our community's health care issues from a leader prospective. Her mission for the hospital is to deliver quality health care and provide health support for the community/military readiness while focusing on health behaviors and creating value.

Barbara Smith RN, she provides nursing care for our community schools. She works for our local health department, but specifically is in charge of the nursing duties required for the children that go to the public schools in my community. She serves as a consultant for the health concerns of students, families and the staff and helps to promote sound health care practices within the schools and community.

Dr. Idorenyin L. Aiku, local family practice physician for one of the community hospitals. She will be a very valuable asset to this questionnaire, because she sees a variety of patients on a daily basis, usually from one extreme to the other. Her perspective is a more micro, community-based focus; somewhat adverse.

Top Three Health Problems in Oklahoma -- While there are numerous health issues, the bulk of the research data shows that Oklahoma's top health related issues arise from tobacco use (respiratory issues, cancers), obesity (diabetes and heart related issues), and teen pregnancy and an increase in STDs. An overview of these issues shows:

Smoking is a massive health related problem. Clearly, the nicotine is addictive in nature, and, like most substance abuse, is tolerated at differing levels by individuals. Still, with such a massive problem, one must ask about the clinical effectivness of various means to stop smoking. A testament to the difficulty and confusion regarding effective intervention measures for smoking is in the hundreds of books, articles, and self-help methods; nicotine patches, alternative delivery devices, hypnosis clinics, and more. But how effective are these intervention techniques when viewed in a scholarly manner? A recent search found over 1,000 recent (2008+) articles on the effectivness of interventions to help people stop smoking. This in itself tells us that there is still no conclusive evidence about the program that works best. We know smoking is harmful, we know it contributes to the premature death of 1/2 million people in the United States each year, and we also know that more and more people try to quit smoking but are unable to do so successfully. The professional literature shows, too, that it is quite difficult to stop smoking. A majority of the research has been focused on assesssing the efficacy of some of the treatment methods, with findings demonstrating very little differences between types of treatment when compared to the overall population (Stewart, 1999). Social attitudes, increased governmental legislation (bans, etc.), and public health measures do have a significant impact on tobacco use. A number of individuals are able to successfully give up cigarettes without help, although most health professional believe that having someone to talk with, mentor, or even see on a semi-regular basis (much akin to the AA sponsorship paradigm), has a stronger effect on quitting and preventing relapse than most anything else. Certain nicotine patches and blockers are effective, but must be rigorously used according to instructions and typically monitored by a physician. The sad fact is that most people will attempt to quit, but it will depend on their individual psychological make-up to decide which will relapse, and which will stay away from tobacco products completely. Whatever the preferred method, though, study after study shows that this has moved beyond an opinion issue; quitting smoking is critical to longevity and health (Slovic, 2001).

We usually think of pandemics as serious diseases that have the potential to hurt thousands if not millions of people through disease. Ironically, a 21st century pandemic is that many in the developed world, through a combination of a sedentary lifestyle, a high-fat diet, and sugary drinks, become obese to the point in which it having a serious negative affect on their health. Medical doctors, scholars, researchers are all in agreement that there is a complete link between what we eat and drink, and the consequences to our overall health. One need only look in the newspaper, magazines, grocery store aisles, or pop-up ads to see thousands of ads for diet pills, diet aids, etc. To see how frenzied people are for something to help them lose weight (Fumento, 1998). Obesity is a broad issue- causing numerous problems. It is particularly prevalent in youth and children, then increases in severity for adults. ). The information age in which we live certainly has changed education, the way children learn, and how much information they can easily access. Unfortunately, a combination of these changes has resulted in a rising prevalence of obesity in children which, in combination with numerous negative health effects has resulted in a public health epidemic (Kopelman, 2005, 49). This trend has become so serious that First Lady Michelle Obama has declared it to be a national health hazard, and placed it as one of her top… [END OF PREVIEW]

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