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MBJ - Community Health Centers Called ‘Best Kept Secret’

Posted: 11-Aug-2017

In his over three decades practicing medicine, Dr. Rashad Ali has worked in both private practice and the community health arena.

For a plethora of reasons, the veteran OB-GYN physician and CEO for Laurel’s Family Health Center prefers the community health center environment over the more perceived glitz of private practice.

“There is a tremendous difference in the quality of care, especially for an at-risk patient,” he said. “Here at the Center, we offer a variety of services I couldn’t offer within a private practice. We have a pharmacy, social services, pediatrics…all of those programs on one site.

“It’s been a great opportunity to see medicine from two perspectives.”

The American community health center concept originated in the Mississippi Delta over a half-century ago. When President Lyndon Johnson and the federal government established the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, medical and civil rights activists used the opportunity to create public systems that could reduce disparities in health care for the underserved.

Ground zero for the evolutionary concept was the Tufts-Delta Health Center (now Delta Health Center) in the tiny Bolivar County hamlet of Mound Bayou. A 1970 film documentary, “Out in the Rural: A Health Center in Mississippi”, captured the community health center model envisioned by the center’s founder, Dr. Jack Geiger, a young doctor working at Tufts University.

Tufts-Delta Health Center opened in 1966 and is considered the nation’s first-ever rural community health center.

“Mississippi should be proud that Bolivar County spawned rural community health centers nationwide,” Ali said.

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