The Collaborative Effort of Public Health
As a senior Biology major at the University of Rochester, my background in public health might not be as extensive as previous interns. My past experiences comprise of community service with animal welfare programs, viral replication research, and volunteer EMT service at my university. Although having taken coursework in the pursuit of a minor in Health, Behavior, and Society, my exposure to the health concerns that afflict communities outside my college campus was limited beyond a lecture setting.
I, however, did not fail to recognize the importance of public health interventions. Through my internship, I hoped to learn more about community health from a nonclinical standpoint. My classes taught me many of the health concerns that affected people, particularly those in lower socioeconomic strata, were largely preventable. Unfortunately, there is a significant portion of the Rochester population whose health needs are not met. What drew me to Healthy Baby Network was its mission to ensure that babies of vulnerable groups acquired the services they needed to be able to reach their full potential. In a present that can seem insurmountably bleak at times, their motivation for a better future reminded me why so many people come together to push for public health measures.
The employees of Healthy Baby Network come from all sorts of backgrounds, and the self-reflection of their impact as individuals was one I had never seen naturally occur in a work environment. The manner of which they acted and spoke demonstrated how thoughtful they were about their communities, providing care, and cultural awareness. It was clear that everyone cared not only about their work, but each other as well, and I can only be grateful that I was allowed to participate in such a setting.
Working at Healthy Baby Network has provided me a chance to learn more about Rochester than I ever could in classrooms. Attending meetings which comprised of attendees representing various women and child health services, I was witness to the collective effort by the Rochester community to undertake the many inequities of the U.S. health system. During these discussions I was able to hear a multitude of different perspectives on how to best establish not just the physical, but mental and social well-being of parents and their babies. Throughout the summer, I was able to help organize some of their major events, including the 2018 Annual Meeting and Countdown for Kindergarten, as well as various other projects. The concurrent effort by community groups to improve the lives of their fellow Rochesterians stood out to me and drove me to look beyond the sphere of student life. I cannot pretend to fully comprehend all the problems of the city and its many occupants, but I was able to, for a short while, see how public health is so integral to society, and see how real peoples’ health is affected when proper interventions take place.
I will be leaving Healthy Baby Network with much more work that still needs to be accomplished. There is a continuous concern of infant mortality and community health in Rochester that those at Healthy Baby Network and their collaborators are constantly trying to address. The accomplishments of all these groups, I am sure though, will lead to great changes for Rochester.
I anticipate utilizing what I’ve learned and my studies in public health in my future endeavors. Through further engagement with my own fellow community members, I aspire to contribute in the goal of making health equity a future reality, and I thank Healthy Baby Network for making me fully realize that.
Written by Vanessa Fan, intern at Healthy Baby Network, Summer 2018.
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About Healthy Baby Network
At Healthy Baby Network, we are dedicated to giving babies a healthy start in life. Through data, health planning, and creating social support for mothers, we are transforming our community baby by baby.