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Book and Media Reviews
February 4, 2009

Community Health Centers: A Movement and the People Who Made It Happen

JAMA. 2009;301(5):548-553. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.13

At first blush, I was skeptical about this little book, because I was expecting an activist work laced with generalizations. Instead, Lefkowitz has produced an annotated history of community health centers in the United States. This history is important, because many physicians who entered practice after the 1960s do not know that few comprehensive health clinics existed in poor communities prior to that decade. The reality was that economically disadvantaged families who could not pay for private physician care had to ride buses across town to inconvenient hospital clinics. There they would wait for additional hours on benches at urban charity hospitals to be seen by residents and instructors who largely thought of them as teaching material. In rural settings, these low-income patients were largely dependent on quick prescriptions by physicians who saw them in racially segregated facilities.

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