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Revisiting the Top 25: Georges Benjamin says apathy and political agendas are threatening to roll back progress on public health

By | October 6th, 2016 | Blog | Add A Comment

 

Georges Benjamin: “We have to make sure ‘population health’ isn’t just a buzzword and people don’t take what they’re already doing and rename it ‘population health.’ ”

 

Classic content: One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare for 2016.

 

Georges Benjamin has led the American Public Health Association as executive director since 2002, but he has never been busier or more vocal.

 

“I think we’re in an environment where the forces doing things that are opposed to the public’s health are more active, and so we’re more active,” he says.

 

The issues are numerous, from climate change to gun violence -– and a few things that didn’t used to be controversial at all.

 

“When you look at clean water and clean air, there’s an effort to push back on a lot of the things that public health has done over the years to make the environment safer for us and to make us healthier,” he adds. “We’re having to weigh in on things that, in our minds, were settled.”

 

Some threats he sees as audacious.

 

“The misinformation around the Affordable Care Act continues to be a concern and the lack of national recognition of the prevention aspects of the law are absolutely amazing,” Benjamin says.

 

Others, he says, are the result of apathy and inattention.

 

“We lost 40,000 public health workers across the country through the last recession and they haven’t been replaced,” he notes. “We’re losing programs because the funding has been cut. And then there’s public health preparedness. We spent a lot of money getting ourselves prepared after 9/11. Not only have there been reductions in funding for the preparedness of our nation to deal with biological attack, but our preparedness for everyday emergencies is not as good as it used to be.”

 

Benjamin’s words may be finding an audience. On April 19, President Obama appointed Benjamin to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council. Read more…

 

 

Georges Benjamin: Apathy, political agendas threaten progress in public health

By | April 22nd, 2016 | Blog | Add A Comment

 

Georges Benjamin: “We have to make sure ‘population health’ isn’t just a buzzword and people don’t take what they’re already doing and rename it ‘population health.’ ”

 

One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare for 2016.

 

Georges Benjamin has led the American Public Health Association as executive director since 2002, but he has never been busier or more vocal.

 

“I think we’re in an environment where the forces doing things that are opposed to the public’s health are more active, and so we’re more active,” he says.

 

The issues are numerous, from climate change to gun violence -– and a few things that didn’t used to be controversial at all.

 

“When you look at clean water and clean air, there’s an effort to push back on a lot of the things that public health has done over the years to make the environment safer for us and to make us healthier,” he adds. “We’re having to weigh in on things that, in our minds, were settled.”

 

Some threats he sees as audacious.

 

“The misinformation around the Affordable Care Act continues to be a concern and the lack of national recognition of the prevention aspects of the law are absolutely amazing,” Benjamin says.

 

Others, he says, are the result of apathy and inattention.

 

“We lost 40,000 public health workers across the country through the last recession and they haven’t been replaced,” he notes. “We’re losing programs because the funding has been cut. And then there’s public health preparedness. We spent a lot of money getting ourselves prepared after 9/11. Not only have there been reductions in funding for the preparedness of our nation to deal with biological attack, but our preparedness for everyday emergencies is not as good as it used to be.”

 

Benjamin’s words may be finding an audience. On April 19, President Obama appointed Benjamin to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council. Read more…

 

 

Georges Benjamin advocates for a better health system

By | August 7th, 2014 | Blog | Add A Comment

 

Georges Benjamin: “We’re all kind of living in a type of echo chamber where we will only tune in and listen to people who agree with us.”

 

One in a series of profiles of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare (sponsored by Furst Group)

 

Georges Benjamin had a wonderful experience as a military physician, eventually rising to become chief of emergency medicine for Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. But the diverse environment he experienced in those days bore little resemblance to what he encountered when he returned to life as a civilian.

 

“I was a beneficiary of a time when we had active affirmative action programs and had a significant number of minority students in my medical school classes as well as my residency,” he says. “There were many leaders who were part of a minority when I served in the military. When I went out to the private sector I noticed that I was far too often the only minority leader in the room. Thankfully, that’s begun to change.”

 

Today, as the executive director of the American Public Health Association, Benjamin is a strong advocate not only for the public health workers his organization represents, but also for diversity at every level of a company. “In a country like ours, which has such a variety of experiences, the value in having a diverse workplace is that people bring in different ways of thinking,” he says. “We bring our experiences to the problem-solving process, and I think it helps create different solutions.”

 

In today’s political climate, he says, “we’re all kind of living in a type of echo chamber where we will only tune in and listen to people who agree with us. If you talk to yourself and answer your own questions, you’re less likely to get the most inclusive and innovative answers.”

 

Benjamin and the APHA are a non-partisan organization. They have both extolled and chastised Republicans and Democrats on issues that affect public health. But Benjamin says he’s seen a change in how politics can affect public health.

 

Read more…