FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

97chap.IIFukushima Medical University Record of Activities [Notes and Messages]FUKUSHIMA: Lives on the Linewith the need to train as many family physicians as possible. The lack of family physicians is not the only issue that Fukushima is facing. At the earliest, we must create an environment in which medical students and residents throughout Japan who hope to become family physicians can receive specialized training in family medicine. In addition, physicians who are already practicing medicine at their local clinics can learn the skills necessary for practicing family medicine. Toward the Revitalization of Community Medicine that Works with Communities and Facilitates Citizen ParticipationFinally, as a family physician in Fukushima, I would like to share two messages with the citizens of Japan:(1) Be Active in Managing Your Health and the Health of Your Family!When calamities such as large-scale disasters strike, it is only you who can save the lives of yourself and your family. Similar to past disasters, when personal health and medical records are swept away by the tsunami, physicians lose requisite treatment information. Similarly, when electronic patient record systems fail and are temporarily inaccessible, we can only rely on the memory of the patient. No matter how easy it is to succumb to the severity of the situation, it is vital for not only the physicians but also the patients to actively participate in health management and create a more resilient community medical system.However, it feels uneasy to solely rely on your memory, right? The unthinkable proliferates in times of disaster, and there is no one thing that can make you say, “If I just had this, I’d be fine!” So the more backup tools you have in times of emergency, the more secure you feel. For instance, in one case, a patient would update her health information (weight, blood pressure, examination data, medicines, etc.) online daily. Therefore, when she lost her personal medical records and her private doctor’s office was no longer operational, she was able to retrieve the information necessary for her healthcare, even after being evacuated to a distant place. This showed that, in addition to her having a backup of her medical history, she was strongly interested in fully understanding her daily health condition and was capable of appropriate self-care. (2) Ask for Family Physicians that can be by Your Side at Any Time!You may be saying to yourself in frustration, “But there are no doctors like that near me.” But if you do not ask for one, you will definitely never find one. If citizens across Japan raised their voices, the movement for training family physicians and an ideal community medical system will accelerate. I want you to insatiably demand for “my family physician” who can stand by community residents in good and bad times, and come to your aid in times of need.In addition, if family physicians carry out appropriate guidance and management of health issues among community residents daily alongside community nurses, care managers, and government staff, community residents can actively self-care and prevent diseases in times of both disaster and normalcy. To prevent the lessons learned from this disaster from going to waste, we citizens must each proactively participate in the creation of community-wide health management systems (community medical governance) that can uninterruptedly function no matter the situation and fully mobilize the medical resources available in the community. I would like your support in training family physicians who can play a guiding role in the creation of this community medicinal governance system.We will encounter innumerable obstacles. But, today’s Japan does not have the luxury of putting this off just because it is difficult. It is an issue of utmost urgency. I have many colleagues who share my passion for family medicine and are willing to provide mutual support and assistance. If this passion is transmitted to all of you, and all the citizens of Japan act upon it, we can definitely achieve the revitalization of the community healthcare system!Professor Kassai surrounded by trainees and Hula Girls at the First Family Medicine Summer Forum in Fukushima, 2010.The second forum entitled “Studying Family Medicine in a Fukushima Recovering from the Disaster (Learning Family Medicine with the Symbol of Recovery, Hula Girls)” was conducted on September 10 and 11 in Iwaki City. Center: Forum Chief and Head Professor of the workshops Dr. Ryuki Kassai and the author.Elementary school students participating in medical office training as part of the “comprehensive community care” programSource: HealthcareEditing/Text: Houken Corp.