Social Distancing, Public Health, and the Bible

Social distancing is an important public health measure to slow or stop the spread of many diseases. God’s instructions to the Hebrews in the Bible were primarily for holiness, but also had important health benefits.

I was at the auto parts store last week buying brake pads to replace the old ones in my daughter’s Prius. An elderly woman walked in, donning a mask and gloves, and carefully staying at least six feet away from others. When a clerk approached her and when other customers walked by, she retreated. I walked the long way down a separate aisle to get around her, trying to provide the space that she needed. Given her increased level of risk, and the fact that she didn’t seem grumpy, I appreciated her caution.

Social distancing, putting space between people who may infect each other with a disease, is the major way that individuals and governments throughout the world are trying to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. It has worked many times in history, such as in the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, a far deadlier disaster than the current plague. The nation, and indeed much of the world, has been staying at home, or at least away from others, for over six weeks. Public health experts have used many other interventions for infection control as well. This article will discuss social distancing and other public health actions against infectious disease.

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How to Do No Harm

How leaders can minimize harm in health care, in other industries, and in all areas of life.

“How can we change this process to prevent this error from happening again?” the senior ward nurse asked the group. It is a common question, one that I have heard thousands of times from experienced and dedicated health care professionals of all stripes.

I have worked in health care for many years, serving in positions from volunteer to emergency medical technician to senior attending physician to chief of staff at a hospital to chief medical officer of a large network. In every position, “do no harm” is a fundamental theme. This famous statement from the writings of Hippocrates encapsulates quality improvement, patient safety, access to care, and many other goals in modern medicine.

“Do no harm” can be thought of as eliminating risks that could lead to a bad outcome, such as injury or death. Occupational and Environmental Medicine physicians learn that there are four ways to decrease risk in the workplace and in the environment:

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Public Health

A compendium of articles in outside sources written by Dr. Harris and looking at Public Health. 

In 2009 I wrote an article detailing the three most important factors in ensuring the health and security of a people: societal stability, public health, and primary care. The article studied the Black Death, the Great Influenza, and other key events in history to determine how these three factors, or lack thereof, impacted people’s lives.

In 2016 this has not changed. Large outbreaks like Ebola and Zika, and smaller ones like Influenza and Salmonella, impact the world every day. Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, and injuries of all sorts, remain major threats to health. New hazards arise, whether from pollution or exposure to untested industrial chemicals. And as always, unhealthy lifestyle choices cause more early disease and death than anything else.

Meanwhile, as nations and individuals sink further into debt, public health funding declines. Greater need and fewer resources in public health mean that professionals in that field need to work smarter. Articles below are intended to help these public health and other medical professionals meet their mission.

American Family Physician

High Altitude Medicine

Bioterrorism

Military Medicine

Hearing threshold comparisons between 2001-02 NHANES and 2003-05 Fort Bliss U.S. Army Service components

Modeling hospital response to mild and severe influenza pandemic scenarios under normal and expanded capacities

Comparison of nondeployable hearing profiles by Army component (Active Duty, National Guard, and Reserve) and by gender

Preventive medicine in Task Force 1st Armored Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom

Medical reference databases used by Army primary care physicians in field environments

Other

Infectious Disease in Athletes 

Laser eye injuries in military occupations

Societal stability, public health and primary care as three pillars of defence in biosecurity

Vaccinating health care workers against smallpox in an isolated primary care facility

 

Attachments

Outbreak Investigation