The Public Health Crisis Survival Guide: Leadership and Management in Trying Times

ISBN : 9780190697211

Joshua M. Sharfstein
216 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jul 2018
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  • The first and only book on surviving and thriving during public health crises of all kinds
  • Informed by examples drawn from history, headlines, and the author's experiences as a leader in state, local and federal health agencies
  • Includes first-person sidebars written by former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, CDC Washington Office Director Ed Hunter, and others
  • Practical advice for recognizing and navigating crises, plus how to pivot to policy change to mitigate future crises
  • Supplemental commentaries republished from the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Milbank Quarterly
  • An ideal core or supplemental text for courses in public health leadership, public health management, and public health practice

Firefighters are taught to battle flames. Police learn to respond quickly to 911 calls.
So why are so few health officials prepared for public health crises?
The Public Health Crisis Survival Guide is here to help. Whether it's an infectious disease outbreak, a scathing news report, or a sudden budget calamity, this book gives public health readers an honest and practical overview of what to do when things go wrong — not just to survive, but to lead and thrive in the most difficult circumstances.
With examples drawn from history, recent headlines, and the author's own experience at the local, state, and federal levels, this book covers:

· how to recognize, manage, and communicate in a crisis
· how to pivot from managing a crisis to advocating for long-term policy change that can prevent the crisis from happening again
· how to awaken a sense of crisis on a longstanding problem to generate momentum for change
· taboo topics, including whether and how to apologize for mistakes

Written by a voice of experience, practicality, and good humor, The Public Health Crisis Survival Guide will be a source of enrichment and reassurance for the next generation of public health students and practitioners.


1. Introduction

Part I
2. Elixir Sulfanilamide
3. Thalidomide
Sidebar 3.1 Frances Kelsey, the Heroine of the FDA
Grace Mandel
4. The Swine Flu of 1976
5. HIV

Part II
6. Recognizing a Crisis
7. Crisis Management
Sidebar 7.1 Flint, Michigan: More than Safe Water
Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH
8. Communications and Politics
Sidebar 8.1 Bellevue Hospital: Losing Credibility
Grace Mandel
Sidebar 8.2 Smallpox at the NIH
Edward L. Hunter
9. Preventing the Next Crisis
Sidebar 9.1 Responding to the Newton Shootings
Governor Martin O'Malley
Sidebar 9.2 Opportunity in Crisis: Jack-in-the-Box and the FDA
Grace Mandel

Part III
10. Responsibility and Blame
11. Opportunity in Crisis

About the author: 

Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, is Associate Dean for Public Health Practice and Training and Professor of the Practice at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. A pediatrician, he previously served as the Health Commissioner of Baltimore City, the Principal Deputy Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Health Secretary of the State of Maryland. On Twitter: @drJoshS

"Engaging, informative, and thought-provoking - as close to a page-turner as a professional publication can be. As a result, it could become foundational in the education and continuing education of public health professionals; it should." - American Journal of Public Health

"Essential reading ... A nuanced discussion about how health officials can accept responsibility and blame in a way that increases confidence in their leadership and in their organization." - Health Security

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