A Time of Remembrance and New Beginnings
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Introductory remarL· A ΉΜΕ OF REMEMBRANCE AND NEW BEGINNINGS DAVID SATCHER, M.D., Ph.D. President MeharryMediad College ITBA pleasure for me to welcome you to the Second National Conference on Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. This conference marks a special event in the history of Meharry Medical College. It represents the inauguration of MeharrZs Institute on Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, an institute that will be concerned with information gathering, policy development , research, and training, all directed to a very needy target population, the medically underserved. Perhaps the thing that makes this day most memorable is the presence of a most special and honored guest, Dr. Louis Sullivan, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, who will deliver our keynote address. I want to take this opportunity on behalf of the entire Meharry Medical College family and this community to express our deepest appreciation, enthusiasm, and joy in having with us on this occasion Secretary Sullivan and members of his staff. As we celebrate this conference and the start of our new Institute, we must remember all of those who made this day possible. Many sacrifices have been made in this college's 114 years. Meharry Medical College was founded in 1876, a few years after the Emancipation Proclamation, to focus on two concerns: access to health care for the underserved, and health professions training for former slaves. Over the years, the two concerns have been complementary. By 1980, Meharry had graduated more than 40 percent of all black physicians and dentists practicing in the United States; 75 percent of Meharry graduates go on to practice in underserved rural and inner-dty communities. Meharry reaffirmed its commitment to the underserved by forming the Institute on Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. The Institute is the only policy- and research-oriented service institution in the United States that is exclusively devoted to the health of and health care for poor and underserved Americans. Begun in November 1988 with preliminary funding from the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, Vol. 1, No. 1, Summer 1990 Remembrance and New Beginnings Tennessee Department of Health and Environment, the Institute was conceived from two realizations. On the one hand, Meharry's historic proximity to underserved populations gave us a unique view of the severe and unmet health needs of millions of Americans. On the other hand, we also understood that spirited efforts to alleviate the health concerns of the poor and underserved were underway at dozens of hospitals, federal and state agencies, medical schools, think tanks, and research centers throughout the country. The problem was poor communication: the health professionals who address these problems had few mechanisms for regularly reporting research news, obtaining research assistance, learning about innovative programs, sharing insights, and otherwise collaborating to understand problems and develop solutions. Meharry's Institute on Health Care for the Poor and Underserved provides these services by sponsoring annual conferences, publishing a quarterly journal, and operating an information clearinghouse. All three activities encourage a vibrant cross-fertilization of data, news, ideas, and viewpoints. The work of the Institute is supported quite fully by a campus infrastructure that for years has been oriented toward the health concerns of the poor. Meharry developed one of the first community health centers in the country in 1966. In recent years, Meharry has organized the Area Health Education Center of Tennessee, which serves the entire state, providing exemplary health education for residents in underserved Tennessee communities; an international health sciences center that has trained hundreds of African health professionals and that, since 1987, has been a collaborating center of the World Health Organization; a tropical diseases center; a nutrition center; and a center of excellence for minority health professional education. These activities provide a solid base of professional expertise, research information , and historical memory to help support the Institute on Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. Meharry was founded to address issues related to health care for the underserved and the disadvantaged, and to provide access to health professional and health science careers for students with special needs and special commitments . Given our charge, I cannot imagine an institution better suited to...