Reflections on Health - Whidbey Institute

Reflections on Health, by Executive Director Jerry Millhon

In the last few months, as we have been preparing for our upcoming Thriving Communities Conference on Health, I’ve been struck by a connection in my story, from father to son.

I was born in Rochester, Minnesota. My father was on staff at the Mayo Clinic. He was an Illinois country boy who landed in this new world and came to love the fellowship of the then 50 to 100 doctors that found their way into positions with the Mayo brothers.

He loved being there. Working with the diverse set of patients that the Mayo Clinic drew taught him and shaped his work for the rest of his life. Years later, in his moments of quiet reflection, he would share his memories of being in a place in which anybody would be treated and costs would be adjusted to the patient’s ability to pay. He would, on occasion, tear up as he reflected on those times with me.

In thinking about health as our lens into a thriving community, I recall my father and the thriving community that the Mayo Clinic was, at that time, for him. Have we really changed in our perception of health and health care? As we explore thriving and health, the challenges even in defining health seemed daunting. What has happened to us in this last century? How was health defined a generation ago, and what would be the difference today? There are no simple answers but we do know this: we who believe in creating Thriving Communities propose that dignity, respect, sense of belonging, and trust for all in a community are essential if a community is to thrive.

These principles are threaded through each video we have prepared for this year’s gathering. We have ventured out into the layered and textured space of health care, connecting you to common people creating and doing uncommon work for the common good. Amazing stories of hope are all around us today, just as they were for my father many years ago.Reflections on health

In the last few months, as we have been preparing for our upcoming Thriving Communities Conference on Health, I’ve been struck by a connection in my story, from father to son.

I was born in Rochester, Minnesota. My father was on staff at the Mayo Clinic. He was an Illinois country boy who landed in this new world and came to love the fellowship of the then 50 to 100 doctors that found their way into positions with the Mayo brothers.

He loved being there. Working with the diverse set of patients that the Mayo Clinic drew taught him and shaped his work for the rest of his life. Years later, in his moments of quiet reflection, he would share his memories of being in a place in which anybody would be treated and costs would be adjusted to the patient’s ability to pay. He would, on occasion, tear up as he reflected on those times with me.

In thinking about health as our lens into a thriving community, I recall my father and the thriving community that the Mayo Clinic was, at that time, for him. Have we really changed in our perception of health and health care? As we explore thriving and health, the challenges even in defining health seemed daunting. What has happened to us in this last century? How was health defined a generation ago, and what would be the difference today? There are no simple answers but we do know this: we who believe in creating Thriving Communities propose that dignity, respect, sense of belonging, and trust for all in a community are essential if a community is to thrive.

These principles are threaded through each video we have prepared for this year’s gathering. We have ventured out into the layered and textured space of health care, connecting you to common people creating and doing uncommon work for the common good. Amazing stories of hope are all around us today, just as they were for my father many years ago.

Photo courtesy Christo and Mellissa Phillips via Wikimedia Commons

March 12, 2014

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