Letters to the Editor

National Health Insurance

I am a 92-year-old public health retiree. Back in the late 1940s, I and Dr. Sy Axelrod, my classmate at SPH, were the only two students who recognized “paying for medical care” as a leading problem of public health. In 1956, I submitted a doctoral dissertation based on a study of 1,500 patients who had left the hospital without paying their bill, and my dissertation concluded with a call for national health insurance. I still maintain that national health insurance is the logical answer to our present health predicament.
Henry R. Mason, MPH ’49
Vernon Hills, Illinois
The writer is a former associate director of the American Medical Association.

Go Blue

Although I am not an alumnus of UM SPH, I am a big fan. Through my many years associated with schools of public health and now in my role in a practice organization, I have seen numerous alumni magazines and similar publications from all the public health associations. I can honestly say that Findings is the best! You consistently offer the reader new insight into the work of the faculty, the student body, and your collaborators but also do a wonderful job of communicating the importance of our chosen field. The challenge of communicating the value of public health is well known; I simply point to Findings to show that it is possible. Public health tends to be viewed as an almalgam of professions; through Findings one can easily see the ties that bind us together—leadership, scholarship, and prac-tice. Who knows, maybe one day my kids will be in Ann Arbor shouting “Go Blue!”
Scott Becker
Executive Director
Association of Public Health Laboratories
Silver Spring, Maryland

On Relationships

The cover of the fall/winter 2008 issue of Findings was riveting. I found myself reminiscing about a trip I made to China in 1986 to attend an international nutrition symposium, whose purpose was to share information and practices with our Chinese counterparts. I left feeling that, except for private conversations, there was a reluctance on the part of our hosts to share their problems and practices. The cover of Findings, with the simple word “Relationships” superimposed on a picture of the Great Wall of China, suggests how greatly things have changed. The image triggered memories of courses I took at Michigan, like Group Dynamics and Public Health Administration, which focused on the importance of building relationships. Those courses gave me a philosophy and practices that I applied throughout my professional career, and for which I continue to be grateful. It is truly exciting to learn of the school’s new China Scholar Exchange and of the possibilities for collaboration aimed at resolving so many public health problems.
Clare Forbes, MPH ’52
East Orleans, Massachusetts

Findings is anything but a typical alum magazine. An example is the feature about the YES program in Flint (“Their Town,” fall/winter 2008 Findings) told through the story of two brothers, Joshua and Jevon Harvey. I also found the article about mentoring (“The Art of Being a Mentor”) to be very insightful. Clearly the best teaching involves transmittal of something unmeasurable, a sustaining relationship. Finally, the art design and the photos of China drew me to the feature on the UM SPH collaboration with the Tianjin CDC (“In Step with the Giant”). The challenges facing China are considerable, and its impact on the world is great. Briefly noted is the issue of greenhouse gases. It would be wonderful to see both “the giants”—the U.S. and China—commit to reducing such gases.
Suzanne Fleming, MPH ’81
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Global Health

The content, quality of writing, and graphics in the last few issues of Findings have been great. A number of interesting and informative articles—many addressing global health issues close to my heart and mind—have made clear that the University of Michigan is rising to address the global health challenges and new opportunities facing us in 2009 and beyond. In particular, I’m very pleased to hear about the establishment of a UM Center for Global Health, which signals the university’s renewed commitment to and capacity in global health.
Christopher McDermott, MHSA ’80
Office Director–Health, USAID
Monrovia, Liberia

Myron Wegman, Mentor

When I started my public health studies in health planning and administration and in nutrition in 1977, my career goal was to work overseas and help alleviate the suffering of children affected by malnutrition and hunger, especially in Latin America. That goal led me to Professor Emeritus Myron Wegman, former dean of SPH, who had worked in Latin America as a pediatrician. Whenever I went to see him, sometimes without an appointment, Dr. Wegman invited me in, and we conversed about my dream of working as a child nutritionist. His kindness is a characteristic that I will always cherish. I was a student with so much hope that I could help change the world and make a difference in the lives of children. He always listened and encouraged me to pursue that dream, and I did. How lucky I was to have such a mentor during my time at SPH and to feel so supported in my educational and career goals.
Solange Muller, MPH ’79
Hudson Valley, New York
This letter is excerpted from a reminiscence Solange Muller submitted in response to “The Art of Being a Mentor” (fall/winter 2008 Findings). To read her reminiscence in its entirety, visit the comments section at the bottom of the online article.

Editor’s Note: Keep Talking

Back in December we sent an online survey out to the nearly 7,000 Findings readers for whom we have e-mail addresses. Truth to tell, we were hesitant to hit the “send” button. It was the start of the holiday season, and every charity in the world was sending out its end-of-the-year solicitations. We could hear your collective groan: What do they want from me now??

What we wanted was to know how we’re doing. Every issue of Findings goes out to some 17,000 people, and while I usually get a pleasant flurry of e-mails and letters after an issue mails, I long for the kind of substantive critique—measurable outcomes, if you will—that would pass muster in a public health study.

So we pressed “send.”

To our astonishment, more than 800 of you responded. We heard from readers as far away as Taiwan and Malaysia and as close to home as SPH I, from people as young as 24 and as old as 85. (One 61-year-old wrote, “Knees—add ten years”).

You told us lots that we needed to hear, including the fact that you’d like us to print on recycled paper (our response is in your hands), that you’d like more research stories (see pages 28–37), and that you’d like us to spotlight selected graduation years (see page 38). Some said you’d like the chance to opt out of receiving the print magazine (we’re working on it) and others confessed that because you spend your days staring at screens, the last thing you want when you come home from work is to boot up a computer to read about your alma mater (a sentiment I’ll admit to sharing).

Many of you said you didn’t know Findings was online. It is—at with web extras—so take a look. Even better, use our new online comments feature to tell us what you think of the articles in this issue.

Several of you suggested we tap alumni to write articles for Findings, a welcome idea. If you’re a writer or know an alum who is, or if you’ve got a story idea you think we should pursue, e-mail sph.findings@umich.edu or send us a note by snail mail.

Mostly, let’s keep talking. We love hearing from you—even if it’s to tell us, “I don’t really read the magazine,” as one respondent did.

And to the reader who wrote, “Leslie does an excellent job ... Pay her well!”— thank you. The next coffee’s on me.

Leslie Stainton