HJAR May/Jun 2020

HEALTHCARE JOURNAL OF ARKANSAS I  MAY / JUN 2020 13 Editor What can we learn from this pan- demic? How do you think it will end, and how will we evolve as a result of this crisis? Dillaha I’m hoping policy makers and gov- ernment leaders will have a better appre- ciation for the role of public health in the health and well-being of our communities. Part of the role public health plays is to pro- tect the economy, and it is my hope that as a result of this public health crisis, people will see the importance of maintaining a strong public health system. One of the difficulties in terms of funding for public health is that when public health is done well, nothing happens. It is difficult for people who don’t look at things in the long term to see that it’s important to fund and support agen- cies that, in a sense, make nothing happen. Funding has been one of the biggest issues in public health over time, and it is very sim- ilar with immunizations. People don’t rec- ognize the need for immunizations because when they work, the diseases they prevent aren’t present, and people don’t realize it’s the result of a public health intervention. Editor This journal goes out to healthcare leaders throughout the state. How do you feel they’re holding up, what do they need, and how can we help them? Dillaha I think one of the important things to recognize is that every healthcare sys- tem in the state is under stress, and leaders have really stepped across their competitive boundaries in partnering with organizations they formerly might not have partnered with in this effort to address the spread of COVID-19, and to do the right thing to coordinate increased care for Arkansans. Encouraging them for doing that is really very important. I think it’s also important that different sectors of the health system in public health have learned a lot about each other during this time. Not knowing how each sector works, it’s easy to assume that if you don’t know something is happening, it’s not happening. I think this will strengthen us as a state because now we will have a better understanding of our systems, their capacity, and what the real needs are of the people in Arkansas. Editor If the human race were to put this much concentrated effort into other dis- eases, such as cancer and heart disease, do you believe they could be eradicated? Dillaha I think how we treat an infectious disease is going to be different than howwe treat chronic diseases. Although there is a behavioral component in everything with regard to health, there are chronic condi- tions that are greatly affected by lifestyle, and if we really put effort into supporting people living healthy lifestyles, I think we could have a really big impact on the health and well-being of the people in Arkansas, but it would be a different strategy than the kinds of things we’re doing now. n “ONE OF THE DIFFICULTIES IN TERMS OF FUNDING FOR PUBLIC HEALTH IS THAT WHEN PUBLIC HEALTH IS DONE WELL, NOTHING HAPPENS.”