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J Ambul Care Manage. 2005 Oct-Dec;28(4):313-20.

The first community health centers: a model of enduring value.

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Department of Community Health and Social Medicine, City University of New York Medical School, New York 10031, USA.


Community health centers in the United States, first launched as a federal initiative in 1965, were rooted in models from South Africa, the American civil rights struggle, and a national commitment to address poverty. The first 2 centers, one serving a rural population in the Mississippi Delta and another a public housing project in Boston, incorporated such core principles as provision of primary care to a defined area or population; public health interventions addressing social determinants of health; emphasis on community participation; community empowerment leading to control of the new institutions; epidemiologic methods to identify problems and guide decisions; new combinations of clinical and public health personnel; and reduction of disparities in health and healthcare of the poor and minorities. The continuing relevance of these principles in today's greatly expanded health center network is reviewed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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