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Health in the Amish Community

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James T. Eastman, MD

April 1, 2008

43 minutes

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James Eastman, MD has lived and practiced pathology in Lancaster County, PA for nearly 30 years during which time he also served as Chief of Microbiology and Immunology and then as Director of Laboratories for Lancaster General Hospital. Lancaster has the oldest and one of the largest communities of Older Order Amish in this country. As an outgrowth of their religious beliefs and heritage, the Amish chose to remain separate from the mainstream, and thus constitute an ethnically, culturally and genetically distinct population. The interactions between the Amish community and the surrounding modern world (the "English" as the Amish refer) are complex and often puzzling to those of us not of the Amish community.

Eastman has spent part of his career working to understand the beliefs and practices of this community, particularly those that might impact on Amish attitudes about health care. In particular he has worked with Holmes Mort on and Kevin Strauss at the Clinic for Special Children (Strasburg PA) in the study of the metabolic and genetic diseases that are common in the Amish and Mennonite communities.

This unique practice setting, built and financially supported by the Amish, blends effective therapy, compassionate care, and cutting-edge metabolic and genetic research in the ultimate translational model. Eastman currently works on continuing to bridge the divide between rural communities in both the medical and legal setting, and further investigating the diseases and health needs specific to the Amish ad Mennonite populations.