Department hosts second retrospective
|September 08, 2008|
|The UNC School of Public Health’s Department of Health Behavior and Health Education invites students, faculty, alumni and friends to attend a department retrospective, Drs. John Hatch and Jack Geiger and The Delta Project. The event will be held in Chapel Hill on Friday, Sept.12, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Carolina Inn’s Old Well Room. Discussion is scheduled for 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., followed by an informal reception.
In 1967, Dr. John Hatch, a long-time department faculty member (DrPH, 1974), together with friend and colleague Dr. Jack Geiger, a physician-activist, worked together to launch the Delta Health Center in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Based in a very poor region where sharecropping jobs had been lost after cotton harvesting began to modernize, the Delta Health Center responded to community health problems with innovative responses – including a food bank at the dispensary to address widespread problems with malnutrition.
When challenged by administrators in Washington who felt that pharmacies should dispense only medicines, Geiger responded, “The last time we looked in the book, the specific therapy for malnutrition was food.”
A short time later, the local population pooled their resources and, with help from Washington, obtained land. In less than a year, they were producing food sufficient to feed everyone in the region.
The Mound Bayou Health Center, together with a similar effort in Boston, constituted the nation’s first network of community health centers. Today, nearly a thousand community health centers across the nation provide crucial services to over 11.5 million patients each year who might otherwise receive no care at all.
As Geiger remarked 40 years later, “You can do more than bail out these medical disasters after they have occurred, and go upstream from medical care to forge instruments of social change that will prevent such disasters from occurring in the first place.”
Throughout the Delta Project, Hatch and Geiger worked to engage the community through needs assessment, priority setting and program development.
To learn more about the Delta Project, visit the National Library of Medicine Exhibit on the Delta Project, or watch Out in the Rural: A Health Center in Mississippi, a short video on the project.
# # #