By Dr. Samuel Rivera, Naval Health Clinic Corpus Christi, Texas
I was raised in the Bronx, New York and I earned my Doctorate of Health Sciences with emphasis in Public Health Education from Honolulu University in 2002.
Before coming to Texas I served as the public health educator for U.S. Naval Hospital Roosevelt Roads, Wellness Center in Puerto Rico. And as the Health Promotions & Wellness public health educator at Naval Health Clinic Corpus Christi for the past 12 years, I continue to focus all efforts on the culture of prevention.
Promoting that culture is crucial particularly in primary care. Because during a medical appointment, the patient’s family history assessment helps identify risk factors which helps provide the foundation for prescribing an individual preventive health care plan.
Whether we promote tobacco cessation, health and fitness, cholesterol control and prevention, basic nutrition, weight management, stress awareness or hypertension education and prevention; the integration of prevention processes into the primary care setting provides the synergy in preventing diseases and illness before they occur thus, creating healthy environments in the homes and communities in which our patients live.
That is why a paradigm shift must take place; treatment to prevention is paramount if health complications and disparities are to be mitigated within our patient population. The effort requires more than just medications, x-rays, laboratory tests and referrals to other specialties.
In order to reach optimal health status we must encourage a culture of prevention from within the organization – that includes all staff and patients alike.
Preventive health requires that the patient’s health literacy be evaluated to ensure that their mind set fully comprehends their current health status and condition. This is the bridge that we must strengthen to facilitate the empowerment of our patients becoming active participants in “self-care behaviors” toward prevention thus, making healthier choices.
Another aspect of prevention is to include healthy lifestyle classes that focus on behavior change and reduction of complications that are associated with diseases and illnesses. Other health care professionals at the facility can enhance a patient’s regular clinical visit by creating more awareness during their one-on-one.
Being a public health educator has been a very rewarding experience. It has been most gratifying to assist and guide the active duty, retirees and their family members in making a transition toward a healthier lifestyle.
As an aside, I am particularly proud to have helped receive a perfect 100 percent score from the Navy Medicine East Master Black Belt Review Board on the Lean Six Sigma Low Back Pain Imaging Rapid Improvement Event project completed on May 2016. I was also instrumental in the command successfully acquiring its eighth consecutive Surgeon General’s Gold Star Award for Health Promotion and Wellness.
I’m Dr. Samuel Rivera. I am Navy Medicine.