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Henry Ford Hospital Medical Journal

Abstract

Increasing pressures on private and public hospitals have necessitated a reassessment of urban health care delivery. Patients left unserved by stressed private hospitals have placed a greater burden on public institutions, which themselves are often old, underfunded, and in danger of closure. As policy analysts consider remedies, primary care in community-based settings has reemerged as an important component of planning. We present results of a comparative analysis of five public health care delivery systems (Boston, Dallas, Denver, Milwaukee, and Seattle), reflecting their economic, political, and cultural dynamics. Although significant differences in the relative centralization of care and reliance on community-based clinics are evident, the five cities discussed have incorporated an increased emphasis on preventive and primary care. The diversity among the systems is highlighted: adaptability is apparently a vital component in designing a public health care system appropriate to the needs of particular communities. Implications for Chicago and other cities are discussed.

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