Medicine: Reaching the Ghetto

Like many big-city hospitals, Chicago's St. Frances X. Cabrini Hospital has been declining with the neighborhood. As white middle-class families left their sturdy brick houses for the suburbs, poor black and Spanish-speaking families moved into the residential sections surrounding the hospital. Doctors began to shun the area, partly because of crime, partly because 60% of its residents were on welfare. By 1970, Cabrini's hospital beds were only 68% full and the hospital was $1,000,000 in debt.

Anxious to replace the doctors who had traditionally served adjacent neighborhoods and referred patients to Cabrini, the hospital board last year tried a unique approach. It...

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