January 31, 1972

The Free Medical Clinics

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine (Dr. Stoeckle), Harvard Medical School; the departments of medicine (Dr. Stoeckle) and psychiatry (Dr. Anderson), Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; the Technical Education Research Center (Mr. Page); the Medical and Psychiatric Services (Dr. Brenner), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; and the Cambridgeport Medical Clinic, Massachusetts.

JAMA. 1972;219(5):603-605. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03190310033008

The free medical clinics not only provide community-based services for special people, youth, and minorities, in the tradition of special disease clinics in medical practice, but they are also organizational reforms and political acts meant to influence education, care, and treatment. Although their future is uncertain, they have made new groups of patients more visible and now acceptable to regular practices, and some of their reforms (easy access, simplified treatment, peer organizations, less specialized health workers) have been adopted by orthodox clinics. As they acquire public funding to survive, they may lose some of the reforms they initiated.