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Honoring our Field during National Public Health Week 2024

Apr 03, 2024 | Andrea Grenadier

Happy Public Health Week! This year, we’re celebrating NPHW with a poem from Marcy Austin, Health Officer at the Harford County Health Department in Bel Air, Maryland. Marcy is dedicating these sentiments to all of you for your hard work for the public we serve, heroic actions during COVID, and your strong public health spirit.

It takes special human beings to work in the field of public health. We are here to serve. We are a humble bunch. We are not looking for awards or rewards. At times, we are self-deprecating because, well, you have to laugh. It is not glamorous work. We work as a team and self-promotion is not allowed. The work is just pure and simple public service for the greater good. Our reach is broad. We work hard to improve health, prevent disease, and promote good health for all people.

In 2020, we were tested. We were pushed beyond our limits, and we graciously fought the battle against COVID. I called our newfound duties the 6 phases of COVID, and they included: 1) setting up widespread partner communications so that the county stayed informed through all phases; 2) distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) to the community; 3) performing contact tracing on anyone infected; 4) setting up COVID testing sites; 5) performing community compliance of COVID guidelines; and 6) holding mass vaccination clinics. Those who worked in public health at the time, will remember. Those who were yet to come, have heard. No matter what, we all stood up like champions and kept all Health Department operations running through it all. For this, I am grateful, and I ask the question, if not us, then who?

If Not Us, Then Who?

We have taken on the noble task
This work in Public Health
It’s not the money but the mission
That brings our greatest wealth.

We’re not resting on our laurels
Or looking for a vote
We’re just pushing the core functions
PREVENT, PROTECT, PROMOTE.

Working from the front end
In order to PREVENT
Surveilling all conditions
To avoid the next event.

There are fundamental guidelines
To ensure that we PROTECT
The health and the well-being
Of the public we respect.

Improving health and safety
This we must PROMOTE
Taking action, changing laws
Are important things to note.

Then along came the pandemic
Right out of the blue
So we stepped out of our comfort zones
And did what heroes do.

We stood up to that monster
As we were deemed essential
And that sly, deceitful enemy
Took us past our full potential.

It’s not something we can soon forget
But it bonded us together
It’s chiseled in our memories
And will likely last forever.

This work is not just something
That anyone can do
Which brings us to the question
If not us, then who?


About Andrea Grenadier

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