In October 2016, when Harrison Alter convened the first meeting of a group that would later become the Social Emergency Medicine Section of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), participants were invited to make a comment while introducing themselves to the group. The most memorable of these came from Edward Bernstein, a pioneer in both public health and emergency medicine, who said only, “I’ve been waiting 25 years for this meeting.” This simple comment encapsulated 2 very important ideas: first, by committing ourselves as a specialty to addressing the social determinants of health, we will have the opportunity to affect profoundly the health of our society; and second, this has been very late in coming.
This article is part of a special supplement: Inventing Social Emergency Medicine: A Consensus Conference to Establish the Intellectual Underpinnings of Social Emergency Medicine.
Kanzaria HK, Hoffman JR. Introduction. Ann Emerg Med. 2019;74(5):S3-S5. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annemergmed.2019.08.431