BOSTON - Community health centers affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Dorchester, Roxbury and Chinatown served as hosts to a contingent of medical, business and political leaders from New Orleans searching for solutions to rebuild that city's devastated public health infrastructure.
The delegation led by Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, Vice Dean of Community Affairs and Health Policy at Tulane University, toured the Bowdoin Street Health Center in Dorchester, the Dimock Center in Roxbury and the South Cove Community Health Center in Chinatown in a whirlwind two-day visit.
The trip was initiated by Benjamin Sachs, MD, Senior Vice President and Dean of the Tulane University School of Medicine, who served for many years as Chief of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at BIDMC.
"The visits to these model health centers gave the community leaders we hosted a concrete place to go with their vision for health care in their neighborhoods," said DeSalvo. "Now Tulane wants to help these communities move forward with realizing that vision. We plan to offer technical support, opportunities for information and knowledge sharing and assistance with fundraising. We want to see these communities heal and are committed to being a part of that."
DeSalvo was instrumental in starting the Tulane University Community Health Center at Covenant House. The center opened in the days following Hurricane Katrina as a source for urgent care for returning residents in the Bywater, French Quarter, Treme and downtown New Orleans. It has evolved into a neighborhood medical home that provides adult primary care, mental health counseling, geriatric care and health education.
Sachs believes the Boston model may be the answer to providing primary care to low-income and uninsured residents in post-Katrina New Orleans.
Katrina shuttered Charity Hospital, which served as the medical home for uninsured patients in the New Orleans metro area for decades prior to the storm.
"In the aftermath of Katrina, New Orleans has the opportunity to customize our own community health centers and build them to suit each community given its specific needs and culture. They are a crucial step towards healing our city," Sachs said.
Sachs noted the three Boston centers - part of BIDMC's Community Care Alliance - are true community centers providing not only medical care but a safe haven for children to study after school or attend neighborhood events.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and consistently ranks among the top four in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit www.bidmc.harvard.edu.