Harvard Medical School launches pioneering Center for Primary Care

by Olga Deshchenko, DOTmed News Reporter | October 29, 2010
Harvard Medical School launched a Center for Primary Care, made possible by an anonymous $30 million gift, the school announced Thursday.

The Center for Primary Care will serve "as both a physical and intellectual docking point for students, residents, fellows and faculty from across HMS and its distinguished affiliated teaching hospitals," according to the release.

Massachusetts is no exception to the primary care physician crisis. The state recently reported a shortage of primary care doctors for the fifth consecutive year.

The Center is a result of a yearlong partnership between HMS faculty, administrators, residents and medical students, called the Primary Care Advisory Group. Charged by the school's dean to evaluate the state of primary care at HMS and propose recommendations to improve it, PCAG collected input from the local and international Harvard community and met regularly from October 2009 to April 2010.

Another group, the Primary Care Progress, also held regular meetings and organized town hall-style events to collect feedback and suggestions from the members of Harvard's primary care stakeholders. PCAG shared its final recommendations with the dean last May.

The new Center for Primary Care will focus on improving medical primary care education systems, employ the expertise of local, national and international leaders in primary care and focus on research in the field.

"A strong primary care infrastructure is essential for the health of a nation," said Barbara McNeil, Ridley Watts professor of health care policy and head of the HMS Department of Health Care Policy, in prepared remarks. "We're thrilled that HMS will be home to this new center, which will undoubtedly serve as a transformative agent for primary care both here and elsewhere."