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Not for Sale

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bridges. Conspicuously absent was Phil, who, in reality, was doing most of the work. He managed to find himself needed as far as possible from the camera on the day of the interviews.

“What did you think of the news clip?” I asked him offhandedly the morning after it aired on the evening news.

“It will be the death of our work here,” was Phil’s surprising answer.

“What do you mean?” I responded, stunned by his candor.

“That video went right to Joe’s head. Just watch. We’re no longer going to be about health care for the homeless. We’re going to be about Saint Joe.”

In fact, Joe’s presence at the clinic was a rare event in the weeks prior to the news story. He was completing his fellowship in hepatology and planning on entering private practice. After the story we saw more of him for a while but always with an entourage of reporters or wealthy patrons.

As a result of the news Joe generated about the clinic and our medical students’ heroic work after Hurricane Andrew, the University of Miami School of Medicine received the first-ever Community Service Award from the American Association of Medical Colleges. By the time the award was received, however, we were already sliding toward the dissolution of all we had accomplished. A new clinic administrator told us of changes mandated by the federal government. We’d have to reduce losses by enrolling patients in Medicaid and billing our patients for their copayments. Phil was beside himself with anger. Always outspoken, he told everyone who’d listen of the ridiculousness of billing homeless people. It was soon clear that Joe and the new administrator did not want to hear this, and Phil was targeted to be pushed out. In a preemptive strike, I reassigned Phil to a new free clinic we were starting in Overtown, a historically black community a few blocks away. Without Phil, my work at Camillus became impossible. I left a few months later.

A week before I left, Jackie came to see me. “I heard you’re leav-

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