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Sep 07, 2021

One Health Initiative

Garden State Veterinary Specialists and its family of hospitals have long been a supporter of the One Health Initiative. One Health is a collaborative, transdisciplinary approach to achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between human medicine, veterinary medicine and their shared environment.  

In 2015, a veterinarian created an organization called Street Dog Coalition. Its mission was “caring for the lives on both ends of the leash.” It was a collaboration between faculty and students in social work and veterinary medicine at Colorado State University to address the medical needs of the homeless and their pets. The participants in this project have reported that individuals who seek treatment for their pets are more accepting of care for themselves. This project has grown into a program that is currently operating in approximately 40 locations throughout the United States. 

During the recent pandemic, the School of Medicine at Colorado State University – faced by the challenges of practicing clinical medicine under COVID-19 restrictions – created a pilot program to send its medical students into the community to care for the whole person in the environment and circumstances in which they live. 

“The only way to solve big public health problems is to consider the whole planet – people, plants, animals and the environment,” said Anuja Riles, director of the One Health and Society program at the medical school campus at CSU and a pediatrician with Banner Health. “We cannot do it in the silo of human medicine, and the pandemic has really shown that.” 

This inclusive health collaboration is a classic example of the One Health model: finding optimal health outcomes that recognize the interconnection among people, animals, plants and their shared environment.

Federal and local governments recognized the important role the veterinary team played during the pandemic, and veterinary medicine was identified as an essential service. There are a variety of reasons given for this designation, including: preventing the spread of disease (i.e., rabies); providing humane care to animals: alleviating pain and suffering; and, not least of all, ensuring the continued health of pets who are in quarantine or voluntary isolation with their owners. The human-animal bond has never been stronger. 

As the war against the COVID-19 virus continues to be waged throughout the United States, be assured that veterinarians and human physicians, joined by nurses, veterinary technicians, support staff and a variety of other medical professionals all essential to the healthcare team will remain dedicated to the One Health initiative.