Board Member and former Stoneleigh Fellow David Rubin penned an op-ed for The Philadelphia Inquirer on the role of health care professionals in addressing the social determinants of their patients’ health.
When a newborn arrives at my pediatric practice for the first time, usually just a couple of days old, that person’s medical journey is just beginning. During the visit, I fully review the mother’s pregnancy history, the family’s medical history, any challenges related to birth, and early signs or symptoms that the infant is flourishing or having trouble. Hopefully all goes well, and I can establish a follow-up appointment to discuss when the their first vaccinations for the child should be scheduled.
But is that where my responsibility ends? If we are to consider all risk factors that will inevitably impact a child’s health and trajectory, one might argue that it is equally important to know whether the family has stable housing and employment, can afford basic necessities such as food, and whether the mother may be at risk for depression, or worse yet, unsafe in her own home.