Those who live in the city's low-income neighborhoods suffer disproportionately from many ailments, including hypertension, obesity and HIV/AIDS. Residents of relatively affluent Roland Park live an average 20 years longer than their counterparts in the Hollins Market area five miles away, according to the city Health Department. A 2008 RAND Corp. study found that Baltimoreans would have to make 150,000 more visits to medical clinics per year just to attain a moderate level of health.
None of that came as news to Weisfeldt, a man whose job description includes working closely with the university's Urban Health Institute. But to him, things had reached the point of crisis. "We should have been training career [physicians] to serve underserved communities, and we weren't," he says.
There are reasons the U.S. health care system has evolved in a way that shortchanges the urban poor. In the days before researchers discovered such treatment staples as antibiotics and penicillin, the medical world focused on curing maladies that threatened the population.