January might be dubbed Narcissistic Well being Month. After vacation gluttony and non-aerobic socializing, persons are targeted predominantly on their very own well being as indicated by a plethora of New Yr’s resolutions to do extra, or much less, of sure actions.
Typical commitments embrace quitting smoking, lowering (or stopping) alcohol consumption, lowering (however not stopping) Cheetos consumption (that one is for me). We vow to scale back our blood strain and calorie consumption, and to extend our sleep, train, healthy-food consumption and check-ups.
One Princeton doctor appears to be proof against narcissistic well being syndrome. Chair of the Princeton Board of Well being Dr. George DiFerdinando Jr. focuses on the well being of others — 1000’s of Princetonians — all of whom are his sufferers, most of whom he by no means has met. His New Yr’s decision is to proceed to assist members of his group cope with their weight, blood strain, diabetes, drug habit, infectious ailments, lead publicity, man-made and pure disasters — and to do all of it for no financial compensation.
A member of the Princeton Board of Well being (previously generally known as the Princeton Well being Fee earlier than consolidation) for the previous decade, DiFerdinando was honored in December with a lifetime achievement award from the New Jersey Native Boards of Well being Affiliation. Princeton Well being Officer Jeff Grosser, who nominated DiFerdinando for this honor, mentioned that the award is a good honor. “Dr. DiFerdinando is without doubt one of the few docs to combine group well being and private well being into one,” Grosser mentioned. “We’re fortunate to have him on the Princeton Board of Well being, and I’m lucky to have the ability to promote public well being with him right here on the town.”
DiFerdinando by no means talked about the award in my most up-to-date dialog with him, till I introduced it up. “Public well being is simply what I do,” he mentioned. He sees well being ramifications in each side of our lives. His aim is to assist the city purchase 20/20 well being imaginative and prescient that may permit officers to view insurance policies within the context of public well being.
“Once I see leaves on the road I see issues with biking or strolling, and that may result in well being issues via accidents or by discouraging wholesome train,” DiFerdinando mentioned. “Due to this fact how we deal with our leaves has a well being influence.”
His motivation for pursuing public well being as a vocation and avocation shouldn’t be awards, however quite the rewards of constructing a constructive distinction in individuals’s lives. Acquiring an M.D. and a grasp of public well being diploma from the College of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he has labored in public well being for over 30 years in a spread or roles for the Facilities for Illness Management, New York State Division of Well being, and the NJ Division of Well being and Senior Providers (now the NJ Division of Well being). Extra not too long ago, he directed the New Jersey Heart for Public Well being Preparedness at UMDNJ earlier than it grew to become a part of Rutgers College and is at present an adjunct professor within the Division of Epidemiology on the Rutgers Faculty of Public Well being. As he has cutback on his skilled public well being obligations, he has devoted extra time to his volunteer dedication to group public well being.
He and his household (spouse and now two grown kids) moved to Princeton in 2000 when he was assistant commissioner after which appearing commissioner on the NJ State Division of Well being and Senior Providers.
“And Princeton was the situation of my first main disaster as appearing well being commissioner after 9/11,” he mentioned. “We confronted the anthrax disaster, characterised by the truth that the letters have been mailed from the Nassau Avenue mailbox throughout from the college. . . . The perpetrator, who was residing in Maryland, was coming to Princeton as a result of he allegedly had an obsession with a feminine sorority and was mailing the letters from right here.”
“My agenda on the board of well being displays my three predominant areas of curiosity as a public well being skilled: infectious ailments, maternal-child well being, and emergency preparedness,” he mentioned. All three of those areas have had a very distinguished function within the lives of Princetonians since he has been on the board.
DiFerdinando has handled a number of main infectious illness points in Princeton, such because the H1N1 flu virus (and the vaccination facilities), Ebola, and meningitis. Within the space of maternal youngster well being, his concern is targeted on: lead poison monitoring; sustaining the elevated hours allotted for public well being nurse companies (the hours on his watch have been elevated from four to 28 per week); and strengthening the Ladies Infants Youngsters Clinic, which was “grabbed from the jaws of loss of life,” because of the “relentless” and “extraordinary” efforts of the workers of the Princeton Well being Division and Princeton Human Providers.
With all of his expertise professionally within the space of emergency response, DiFerdinando sees sure weaknesses within the present emergency preparedness state of affairs in New Jersey. “Mercer County and the state haven’t any functioning sheltering plan,” he mentioned. “We’ve got relied on an ad-hoc coverage of ‘we are going to determine it out,’ however that negates the ‘preparedness’ a part of emergency preparedness. After Katrina, New Orleans and Houston applied their sheltering settlement. . . I convey this subject up each likelihood I get. There must be a plan that crosses county borders and municipal borders. I’ve no intention of stopping my commentary on this matter.”
He additionally has no need to flee coping with these points when he comes residence to “loosen up.” His spouse, Dr. Elizabeth Marshall, Ph.D., is a accomplice in his public well being angst, as a result of she is an epidemiologist at Rutgers and dealing on a few of the similar points occupying Dr. DiFerdinando’s psyche.
“However, as I mentioned, that’s nice,” DiFerdinando mentioned.
I suppose you’ll be able to say it’s of their DNA.