Race, Poverty, and American Cities

By John Charles Boger; Judith Welch Wegner | Go to book overview

munity health centers operating in urban areas provide better health care at lower cost than do private physicians or public hospitals. 131

The superior health care provided by community health centers reflects a philosophy broader than that of most health care providers. Community health centers operate on the belief that many of the most serious medical problems of the poor have multiple underpinnings, all of which must be treated if medical care is to be effective. Health center services at community health centers are offered by multidisciplinary teams and extend beyond traditional medical care to include environmental, preventive, and social services. 132

To meet the health care needs of minority inner-city residents more adequately, we must confront and accept the realities of life in the inner city. We need to develop systems that deliver comprehensive services and primary care--systems that focus on preventing illness, early intervention, continuity of care, and coordinated service delivery, as well as better integration of medical and social services.


Conclusion

Even with all these changes in place--universal financing, an adequate number of providers, the elimination of discrimination, and the creation of new delivery systems--access to health care probably can increase the health status of inner-city minorities only slightly. Race, geography, and economic status all play a role in the poor health status of disadvantaged minorities.

How can we best improve the health of inner-city minorities? We must not only provide better access to health care, we also need jobs that pay a living wage and programs that deliver decent housing, adequate sanitation, and good education. Only when all of these strategies coalesce will we make real headway in the fight to improve the health of poor minorities in the inner city.


Notes
1.
See Ellen Bilofsky, "Mammography for the Poor: The Deadly Waiting Game," Health/PAC Bulletin, Summer 1991, 31.
2.
I use the terms African American and black interchangeably because both terms currently are used, particularly in the African American community. I use black because the term does not designate merely a skin color but a specific cultural group.

-453-

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