Pandemic reveals cracks in public health infrastructure

A May report by the Trust for America’s Health described the nation's public health agencies as “underresourced, understaffed, and overburdened,” and revealed troubling long-term funding and staffing trends, which made it difficult for agencies to respond during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Public health is a bridge in need of major repair, major strengthening,” Lisa Campbell, DNP, RN, chairperson of the Council of Public Health Nursing Organizations, said in the September issue of the American Journal of Nursing. Because public health salaries cannot compete with the clinical sector, it is difficult to recruit nurses. Threats against public health leaders haven’t helped. “I don't have an easy fix,” Campbell said, but she sees public health’s increased visibility and continued efforts to build trusting relationships as part of the solution.