Tuesday, August 7, 2007

What if we started thinking "Healthy" when we are children?

I love my job. I am passionate about Health Promotion.

Have you ever heard the story about the village that kept fishing bodies out of the river? The village decided that they needed a quicker response time and put thousands of dollars into better rescue boats, ambulance services and even built their hospital closer to the river. Response time was quicker..and yes...they saved some, but more bodies kept coming down the river.

Finally 2 people asked a question. "Maybe we should hike up the river to find out where these bodies are coming from?" They asked the town to finance their expedition but the mayor and council told them that it was more important to put money into their new Emergency Department. The rescues attempts were increasing and they were managing to save lives! It was impossible to finance such an expedition that would take crucial Health care dollars from the village.

They smirked at the 2 villagers and questioned their loyalty to their town..."It must be nice to have time to hike...when we're giving our lives to save others!" The expedition was scorned, the 2 villagers decided that they would still make the trip on their own time and with their own savings.

It was a long arduous journey following the river. They met people along the way who were moving to the village. There was a shortage of workers in the village and people were needed to help with the increasing rescue attempts. Finally they came to a cliff where crowds of people walked close to the edge and were horrified as they witnessed one person after another plunging into the river.

They quickly made danger signs and built a strong metal fence along the pathway that crossed the cliff. The next morning the people in the village noticed that the river was silent. There were no bodies floating past its shores. They didn't realize that upstream 2 of their villagers had made the difference...

I met a retired nurse the other day we talked about how health care is starting to change its focus from " treating the already injured " to "catching them before they fall". I loved her gruff comment. The non-political answer from an old nurse... " For years I've said that if it weren't for people smokin', drinkin' and runnin' around, I'd be out of a job!".

One of my surgeon colleagues would agree. While performing an operation I listened to him fume and vent ( so what else is new). Most of his OR procedures involved cases that resulted from unhealthy lifestyles. His voice was getting louder and louder...and his choice of words, well definitely not G rated. My hands shook as I passed him instruments but I understood his frustration when he said, "You know...sometimes when I go into a place like Montana's and see a guy sitting there who weighs about 300lbs, eating a huge steak and plate full of french fries, I just want to grab him and say...Hey you ...get the hell outta here!" Sorry for the language, but I can't do his frustration justice without it.

As health care providers we know that we will eventually see these people in our offices, in our emergency rooms and on our operating room tables. It's really frustrating!!! Now, after all that being said, can you understand why I love my job? I want to live upstream. I want to help put up the danger signs and build metal fences. Sometimes as nurses we build Ivory Towers. Nurses are only important if they are emergency room nurses or ICU nurses. That's where the real action is!!!

I've asked this question several times to make a point. "Which is more important: The purchase of an MRI machine or a nurse teaching a classroom full of children the correct way to wear a bicycle helmet?" I know there's a need for both...but I'm putting my health care buck on the nurse teaching the child how to wear his helmet.

Today I was talking to Marion Stevens. Her 9 year old grandson Zachary was so enthused with the footloose program that his mom "Tracy" went out and bought him his own pedometer( Footloose is sold out!). Tracy has been logging his mileage daily. Last week at the beach Zach figured he must have put on "at least 3 miles" from swimming at the beach and wanted that noted on his daily total. Marion told me that she took Zach to McDonalds and Zach informed her that he couldn't eat there because it wasn't a healthy place to eat.

Somewhere along the way this child is learning upstream. What if every child did?

1 comment:

Doris said...

wow, that is impressive. It is wonderful to hear that children are taking control of their health at such a young age. I love it!
Great story, nursewilltravel!