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The Role of Hospitals in Communities

The Role of Hospitals in Communities

I had a fascinating conversation recently about the role that hospitals play in communities and how that could evolve. Currently, of course, hospitals are places we go when we get sick. We associate them with illness more than wellness.

But there are some people in the industry who would like that to change. They envision hospitals as being community hubs – places that facilitate interactions between medical professionals and the community that promote health and wellness.

This potential evolution symbolizes the direction in which healthcare in general needs to move in this country. Our healthcare system focuses on treating people once there is something wrong – prescribing drugs and surgery. But if the system shifted and began to emphasize wellness and prevention, we would have a much healthier population and we would spend far less money on medical care.

As it is, our healthcare system emphasizes treatment at least in part, I believe, because our culture is not set up to support a focus on prevention. To lead a healthy lifestyle and prevent serious illness, we must get enough sleep and have time to exercise and cook healthy meals.

But we are a country of workaholics and we  do not receive public support the way citizens of many other countries do. In many countries, families receive money from public funds when they have children, for example.  And women are granted a much longer period of time for maternity leave than they are here. Such measures make leading a healthy lifestyle significantly more manageable.

What is more, we have been conditioned in the United States – in part by the medical community – to want quick fixes. We are less eager than we should be to alter our lifestyles in ways that will improve our health.  Therefore, if we are truly going to focus on prevention, we need to create a culture that will foster our efforts.


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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.


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4:43AM PST on Jan 19, 2014


3:10PM PDT on Sep 28, 2013

It would be terrific if hospitals and health plans focused on prevention. In the most Machiavellian scenario, it benefits economic profit in that more people are fit for work. In the most humanitarian one, it allows for a better quality of life so people have a better chance at happiness and physical comfort.

10:56AM PST on Nov 6, 2012


9:07AM PST on Nov 6, 2012

Thank you

1:38AM PST on Nov 6, 2012

Thanks for sharing.

6:27PM PST on Nov 5, 2012

thanks......sounds wonderful,and I agree prevention is best....but its hard to view this in a society that sees death as a failure, pain as an evil, and need to eat healthy and be active as work.....

5:29AM PDT on Aug 4, 2012

Good point.

3:38AM PDT on Aug 4, 2012

Care is important, but it is indeed time we worked harder on prevention...thanks for this article!

1:05AM PDT on Aug 4, 2012

We should change our priorities. It would benefit our lives and our futures.

3:42PM PDT on Jun 11, 2012

It is hard to imagine the dominant medical community with its long tradition of cut, burn & poison turning around enough to be a positive force for health. They sometimes have an amazing impact on people's health once they are profoundly ill or injured. They seem to be clueless about health. I would love to see this change. Hope. Hope. Hope.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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