HEALTH HEALING THE CITY FROM THE INSIDE

The Simpson-Stuart/ Trinity/Lisbon area of Dallas, due south of downtown, with a population of almost 113,000 people, has six general practitioners, two pediatricians, and no obstetrician/gynecologists. Most of the predominantly poor and black population choose either to go to Parkland Hospital via bus, or they do not see a doctor at all.

That’s one of the reasons Parkland, under the guidance of Paul Boumbulian, vice president of strategic planning, is opening a new Community Oriented Primary Care clinic in South Dallas. “The best place for health care,” says Dr. Mark Clanton. a pediatrician and one of three physicians who will work out of the new facility, “is as close to where people live as possible.”

The new clinic will also save taxpayer’s money. The most expensive health care, says Boumbulian, is tertiary care-that which is given after the problem has become acute. “We want to intervene earlier,” says Ron Anderson. Parkland’s president and chief executive officer. “We’ve proven that that’s cheaper in prenatal care. We need to do it in more cases.”

Changing the emphasis from tertiary care to preventive care is a major shift in philosophy for a county health-care facility like Parkland, but the concept has a long track record of success. Clanton, who has worked for the past four years at the Carver Children’s Clinic in the West Dallas housing projects, says, “We have actually been able to change behavior. For instance, there are fewer children now who die of diarrhea. It took five to seven years of presence in the community, but it works.”

The new clinic is being funded not only by county tax funds but also by private donations. The Crystal Charity Ball gave $623,000, and $4.9 million has been allocated by the county for construction and operation of the program. The clinic is expected to open in June 1991. “If [the county] wants to provide quality care,” says Clanton, “they’re going to have to do it in a decentralized manner. They can’t build a single building big enough to take in all the problems from a growing community like Dallas.”

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