Cooperating for better care.

Benjamin J. Oldfield

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Hospitals need to stop ignoring their neighbors


Benjamin J. Oldfield, M.D., a resident in internal medicine and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, in Baltimore, learned a lot about community health from a young woman janitor from a poor section of that city with whom  he works at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

He writes in The New England Journal of Medicine that:

“Ms. F.’s {the janitor} story runs contrary to the purported mission of my academic medical center — and probably most others. We claim on banners, websites, and pamphlets that, in addition to pursuing excellence in research and medical education, we seek to improve the health of our communities. But rarely, it seems to me, are those communities defined — or consulted. The people who live near and work in these institutions appear to have no place in these missions: they are not celebrated as our colleagues, nor can they afford to be our patients.”

“Ms. F.’s story echoes through neighborhoods surrounding many U.S. academic medical centers. And it helped me realize that, as physicians who serve our local communities, we should advocate for policies that promote health, productivity, and dignity in the people who work alongside us. Ms. F. and her family deserve a place in our missions.”

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