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April 25, 1977

Medical Care in a Free Community Clinic

Author Affiliations

From the People's Free Medical Clinic, Baltimore. Dr Schacter is now with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland.

JAMA. 1977;237(17):1848-1851. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270440038018

IN THE 1960s a number of "free clinics" were developed in various North American cities.1 These clinics had the common objective of providing medical care and counseling in an atmosphere different from the practitioner's office, hospital clinic, or university dispensary. Usually organized by young physicians and health care activists, they were free in the sense of charging little or nothing for their services; using the word in another sense, they were free of the usual structure of health care provision. An attempt was made in these clinics to keep the patient and the patient's needs paramount, to minimize paper work and bureaucracy, and to make the physician a member rather than director of the health team. Particular emphasis was placed on avoiding judgmental attitudes about venereal disease, pregnancy, birth control, or drug use, and on providing patient education in all these areas. The free clinics were in large part