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December 1995

Policy and Poverty: Child and Community Health in Philadelphia, 1900 to 1930

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, University of Miami (Fla) School of Medicine.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(12):1381-1387. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170250087015

On a fall day in 1913, a man sat on a crowded wooden bench with a little boy on his lap. He waited all day, only to be told that the physician who would treat his son was not working in the public clinic that day. The next morning he learned that if he returned at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, he would stand a better chance of seeing the physician. Since the family home was a shack and even food was scarce, he could ill afford the loss of another day's pay. His son had infantile paralysis, though, and the father believed that the physician could help, so he kept trying. The boy died during the Christmas holidays. "Is it simply that there are not enough public clinics, enough doctors willing to help care for the people who come to them?" asked the social worker who told this story. "Or is there something wrong with the system?"1

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