MGH marks 50 years of community health in Charlestown

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 - 12:20 in Health & Medicine

On his first day at the MGH Charlestown HealthCare Center, in 1968, Dr. Roger Sweet got a phone call. “Where are you?” the voice on the other end demanded. “Who is this?” “I’m the nurse at the high school. You’re supposed to be doing physicals.” Sweet headed to the high school, where he found 40 kids waiting. He had an hour, the nurse told him. “I was trained to do one physical in an hour,” said Sweet, a founding physician at the center, former assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, and head of MGH Health Care Centers until his retirement in 1993. The story provides a picture of the unmet needs in the neighborhood when MGH Charlestown opened, part of the first wave of community health centers that spread across the nation in the late 1960s. “The community health center movement was not just about health, it was about poverty,” said Jean Bernhardt, the center’s current administrative...

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