The Nation's Health + [Hospitals]

Hospitals: Hospitals contain experts in ILLNESS

Hospitals contain many experts in sickness. This seems obvious. But walk down the hallways of any hospital, and you'll quickly be convinced that hospitals contain almost no experts in health .

People (hospital staff, that is, not the patients) in hospitals are especially good at identifying and treating disease . They lack knowledge of health .

If your nurse is 100 lbs overweight and struggles to walk down the hall because of arthritis in both knees, would you entrust her with health advice?

If your doctor sits down in the cafeteria and eats his lunch of a ham sandwich with cheese on a bun, fried onion rings, and a milkshake and pastry, can you believe that he/she possesses any insight into health and nutrition?

If your physical therapist or cardiac rehabilitation counselor struggles nearly as much as you while climbing a single flight of stairs, can you accept their advice on how to regain your stamina and use exerise to full health advantage?

The answer to all these questions is, of course, no. Hospital staff are generally expert at dressing surgical wounds, stopping bleeding, identifying infections, and providing the support services for surgical and diagnostic procedures. In contrast, they are generally miserable at conveying genuine health advice. They certainly fall short in being examples of health themselves.

To hospitals and their staff, health is a temporary situation that persists only until you become ill. Illness is an inevitability in the hospital staff mindset. Health is a temporary state in between illnesses.

We need to shake off this perverse mentality. Health is the state of life that should dominate our practices and philosophies. Illness via the occasional catastrophe, e.g., broken leg from skiing, car accident, etc., is the province of hospitals. We should gravitate towards this philosphy and away from the over-reliance on hospitals that has come to dominate our present perceptions of health. Hospitals are not glamorous. They are, for the most part, profit-seeking businesses intent on portraying themselves as champions of health.

When I walk down the halls of hospitals, I am shocked and ashamed at the extraordinary examples of ill-health presented by hospital staff. Yet they falsely paint themselves as experts in both illness and health. Don't believe it for a second.