Speaker to address community health

Kate Clark

Thirty-eight percent of deaths are caused by four things: diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol, said Dr. Gregory Holzman, who will speak at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30 in the Reynolds Recital Hall about community health issues as part of the ‘Your Health’ lecture series.

The Vielmetti Health Center promotes student health on NMU’s campus and is one of the facilities that will be addressed in Holtzman’s talk. (Analicia Honkanen/NW)
The Vielmetti Health Center promotes student health on NMU’s campus and is one of the facilities that will be addressed in Holtzman’s talk. (Analicia Honkanen/NW)

“What I’m really trying to talk about is the social determinants of health and how in the community it’s directly related to health outcomes,” Holzman said. “Aristotle once said, ‘Show me how a man dies and I’ll tell where he lived,’ and that hasn’t really changed.”

Holzman said he and others in his field try to focus on the cause of problems within communities such as people living in food deserts, like areas of Detroit, lack access to fresh or inexpensive produce.

“When I talk about the community, I’ll start with something similar, about how cost and access are having an effect on our outcomes. But then I’m also going to look a lot on a recent report by the Institute of Medicine called ‘Shorter Lives, Poorer Health.’ It compares the United States to 17 countries with similar economies and how we’ve continued to fall backward on mortality and issues of morbidity,” Holzman said.

Holzman will be giving another lecture on Friday, Jan. 31 to staff at Marquette General Hospital that deals mainly with the rising cost of health care and addresses quality of care and access.

Holzman, who is board certified in family and preventive medicine, currently is the associate chairman of preventive medicine and the medical director of the Family Medicine Network at MSU’s College of Human Medicine.

Prior to that, he was the chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Community Health and worked on health policies such as funding the state-wide trauma system and smoke-free legislation.

“I was involved at looking at the legislation and testifying in front of our Congress regarding the benefits of having a smoke-free environment and talking about policy can make a difference in communities,” Holzman said.

Holzman said there are many different things that can affect the health of both individuals and communities.

“We know that education levels make a huge difference for health,” Holzman said. “Occupation, income, racism, discrimination, housing, that’s what I want to focus on as we continue to discuss the health care bills and all the joey thats going into the system.”

Cindy Paavola, director of Communications and Marketing at NMU, said NMU works with Marquette General, the MSU College of Human Medicine and Blue Cross Blue Shield on issues of health and health education.

“Every summer, the group tries to plan three events within the ‘Your Health’ lecture series that cover topics we think would interest the general public,” Paavola said.

Marquette General Hospital and the College of Human Medicine have a cooperative in which they bring researchers and physicians from MSU to speak at the hospital on a regular basis, Paavola said.

“About three or four years ago NMU was invited to participate in the partnership by providing a public lecture on the Thursday nights before the MGH presentations,” Paavola said.

Holzman’s presentation was suggested by those who help plan the event since community health is currently becoming a more focused-on topic.

“This idea of how where you live, what services are available to you there and how that impacts your personal health is becoming a bigger national discussion,” Paavola said. “Communities are looking at it because when you have healthy and well people, you have a healthy, dynamic and productive community.

“When you have a lot of illness in your community that hurts the vibrancy, the services, the productivity and even just the atmosphere.”

Paavola said the idea of community health was interesting in regards to the community of the U.P. because of its uniqueness.

“We have a lot of access to natural resources to improve our health,” Paavola said. “At the same time, we do have some illnesses that are higher than the national average. So, we thought that this would be a really interesting conversation for our community and our students to hear about and to ask questions of Dr. Holzman.”

The last lecture will take place Thursday, April 3 with Dr. Tim Collier speaking on Parkinson’s Disease and how to live well with it.

All lectures in the “Your Health” series are free and open to the public.