Are Primary Care and Public Health Already Integrated? My First-Hand Experience at Bridging the Two…

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Last week I gave testimony to the Oak Park Village Board in support of a youth bicycle helmet ordinance (passed 5-2!). It was pure policy work for population-based health safety outcomes. Using my voice as a primary care physician (who just happens to bike to work regularly) was instrumental to the broader public health arguments made.

The “integration” of the two realms, primary care and public health, came up regularly throughout my year on the Board of Directors for the AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians), especially through my Commission liaison role on the Health of the Public and Science.

I learned something new: public health and primary care aren’t integrated, and a number of groups are working to bridge the two.

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Life as a Bike Commuter: What I’ve Learned

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This week is Bike to Work Week in Chicago. Ironically, I’ll be driving to work this entire week for two reasons. It’s also Men’s Health Week, and Near North Health Services Corp (where I serve as Medical Director) is hosting free screenings at all its sites and I need to be mobile and get around the entire city.

And, also, I have a flat bike tire which still needs fixing since I was out of town all last weekend. Luckily, the flat tire happened on my commute to work on Thursday last week. Something small, I suspect, had deflated the tire slowly during the course of the day, because I got to work just fine. But as I left to go home, I noticed the deflated tire immediately. I walked a half mile south and hopped on the CTA bus straight west back home to Oak Park.

On most days, however, my bike to work is a great experience. Do you ride your bike to work? If you do, you probably relate a lot to the joys and frustrations of bike commuting. If you don’t, you, like most of my staff as I enter the health center bike in hand, think I’m crazy.
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Primary Care Prevention and the Most Difficult Patients

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People say that doctors make the most difficult patients. They’re wrong. My parents make the most difficult patients.

My parents are great case studies for the challenges of primary care and prevention. Years upon years of my attempts reinforcing health education have seen more failures than successes. What can we do to win the primary care and public health battle of prevention?
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Farmageddon 2013: Grow lights galore!

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I started a new hobby in 2011, the year after we moved into our home in Oak Park: vegetable gardening. I grew zero vegetables before that year. My parents weren’t into vegetable gardening. Before moving to Oak Park, I lived in a condo or apartments or dorms in the urban landscape of Chicago, with little, if any, access to soil.

But in Oak Park, I had back yard large enough for raised beds, with plenty of room for our dog and future kids to run around the play too. And thus, I began my “farm,” as I affectionately refer to it.

Unlike most folks who experiment with a handful of vegetables their first time through (let’s plant a tomato, a cucumber, and pepper seedling to start off!), I tried my hand at over two dozen different vegetables, most of them from seed. Starting with grow lights which my husband bought for me the Christmas before the 2011 growing season, and armed with books instructing me on backyard homesteading, I was energized and ready to go!
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The Story of Marriage Equality: Two Generations in the Making

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The headlines have been amazing these past few weeks. Support for marriage equality reached nearly 60% and more than 80% amongst Americans under 30 (1). More than half of the U.S. Senate now supports marriage equality (2). The American Academy of Pediatrics joined the American Academy of Family Physicians and other major medical organizations in recognizing marriage equality as a public health issue (3). Conservatives commentators from Bill O’Reilly to Rush Limbaugh acknowledged that those supporting marriage equality have won the fight (4).

The chart at the top says it all. There has been a sea change amongst Americans in favor of marriage equality. Some (including our Vice President and former Senator Rick Santorum) cite media, especially Will & Grace and Glee, as the reason (5). While this is definitely part of the equation, it tells an incomplete story.

The true story took two generations. One generation fought for 30 years after the gay rights movement found its voice at Stonewall, a fight, without which, Will & Grace would not have even been possible. The next generation, my generation, of gay and lesbian Americans built upon the work done for decades before we came of age. We came out of the closet in droves; we changed the language; we refused to be marginalized.
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