By: Kitty Dumas
It’s hard to imagine a grassroots movement for healthcare, but that is precisely what prompted the beginnings and growth of Community Health of South Florida Inc. (CHI) more than 50 years ago. With far too many lives lost en route to the hospital, two visionary activists set in motion a movement to form CHI. Doris Ison, a South Dade former farm and factory worker who had been denied equal access to education and healthcare because of her race, and Dr. Lynn Carmichael, who created the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Miami (well known as the father of family medicine). The two, somewhat opposites in life experiences, pulled together the politics, financing and medical expertise needed to form a non-profit healthcare center. Today CHI has evolved to offer comprehensive healthcare services for everyone with 13 centers and 36 school-based centers. But its growth and strife to get there have been harrowing and fascinating. CHI’s history is filled with little-known examples of courage and perseverance that in many ways helped change the nation.