The author calls on academic medical centers that serve urban communities to go beyond the traditional mission of patient care, teaching, and research by accepting responsibility to build community-based care systems that are capable of improving the health of underserved populations within their reach. The experience of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, is presented to illustrate the nature, scope, and complexity of the undertaking that is required. Eight initiatives are described: expanding the primary care network, creating The Children's Hospital at Montefiore and the Child Health Network, responding to the needs of other high-risk populations, integrating the network with health information technology, using care-management systems to improve quality, reinforcing ethical allocation of resources, building teaching and research into the network, and preserving community vitality. The author believes that the current health care environment offers opportunities that may help to stimulate change in the direction of community-based systems. Managed care provides financial incentives to academic centers that are willing to accept risk and responsibly manage the care of a defined community, and advanced information technologies can support them in that endeavor. The author concludes that for academic medical centers with the proper systems in place, accepting responsibility for the community is not only the right thing to do, it is the strategic thing to do.
Dr. Foreman is president, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York.
Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Foreman, Montefiore Medical Center, Office of the President, 111 East 210th Street, Bronx, NY 10467-2490.