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March 17, 1975

Twenty Years of Community Medicine

Author Affiliations

American Medical Association Chicago

JAMA. 1975;231(11):1188-1189. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03240230060031

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In the late 1940s, Hunterdon County in rural New Jersey had a population of about 40,000 and some 20 general practitioners but no hospital. Community leaders undertook a striking experiment that involved building a hospital and providing total medical care for the community. The guiding principles deserve specific mention: the family physician was essential; specialists would serve the hospital on a full-time basis; the hospital would have medical school affiliations and an active teaching program; and it would provide a broad spectrum of health services. There were no precedents for this program. A group of dedicated leaders surmounted vast difficulties, raised funds, and opened the hospital in 1953.

In 1973 a symposium celebrated its 20th birthday. The ten speakers included several physicians closely connected with the program, together with others concerned with education, community health, and health affairs. The reports are informative and stimulating. They point to the extraordinary progress: