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MUCH OF OUR WORK IN PUBLIC HEALTH is devoted to keeping people from getting sick through health promotion and disease prevention strategies. But all of us will, at some point, experience an illness or injury that requires medical attention or hospitalization. In addition, a key element of prevention involves regular visits to a health care provider for important vaccines and disease screenings, monitoring and counseling on risk factors, and keeping chronic conditions under control, to name only a few.
Thus, ensuring that everyone has access to affordable, quality, and timely health care is a vital role of public health. Unfortunately, too many people don’t get the health care they need, and whether they do depends to a great extent on factors such as income, education, race, ethnicity, and immigration status. Faced with this continuing challenge, public health can and must advance policies and practices that contribute to more equitable and effective health care systems.
This issue of our magazine includes examples of the many ways in which the Fielding School is leading on these issues, building on a long tradition. FSPH’s UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (CHPR) is an essential resource for legislators and advocates seeking to improve health care access and quality, and for its analysis on the impact of proposed reforms; the center’s California Health Interview Survey, conceived and developed by the center’s founding director, the late E. Richard Brown, with current CHPR director Ninez Ponce, is routinely relied on to inform policies that have made California a national leader in expanding access to important health services.
For decades, the Fielding School’s Department of Health Policy and Management has served as an invaluable partner for health care leaders — particularly in Southern California, where a number of the most dynamic and innovative health care organizations are based. So many of these leaders, in fact, are Fielding School alumni. The relationship between our school and health care management practitioners will only deepen with the recent establishment of FSPH’s Center for Healthcare Management, under the leadership of Laura Erskine and Leah Vriesman, and the newly established Paul Torrens Chair in Healthcare Management. This new center and endowed chair were made possible by the Sinaiko Innovation Fund for Healthcare Management, a gift from Richard and Patricia Sinaiko, and Greg and Marcie Sinaiko; and the Don S. Levin Trust and Edna and Tom Gordon, respectively. The new center and endowed faculty chair reflect the desire of California health care management leaders to not only give back to a school that has contributed to their profession, but to enhance the Fielding School’s ability to generate new knowledge and produce new generations of leaders for years to come.
Whether we are academics or practitioners, we were all drawn to public health by the desire to contribute to the mission of improving the lives of countless people we may never meet through research, education, policies, and practices that result in better health. By continuing to lead the fight for health care access, quality, and affordability, the Fielding School is fulfilling a critical part of that mission.
Ron Brookmeyer, PhD