Out in the Rural is the unlikely story of the Tufts-Delta Health Center, which in 1966 opened in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, to become the first rural community health center in the United States. Its goal was simple: to provide health care and outreach to the region's thousands of rural poor, most of them black sharecroppers who had lived without any medical resources for generations.
In Out in the Rural, historian Thomas J. Ward explores the health center's story alongside the remarkable life of its founder, Dr. H. Jack Geiger. A former teenage runaway, through a serendipitous turn of events he was befriended and taken in by the actor and Harlem Renaissance icon Canada Lee. Lee would later loan Geiger money for college, and after stints as a journalist and Merchant Marine, Geiger attended medical school and became a physician.
Geiger's personal history brings a profound human element to what was accomplished deep in the Mississippi Delta. In addition to providing medical care, the staff of the Tufts-Delta Health Center worked upstream to address the fundamental determinants of health-factors such as education, poverty, nutrition, and the environment-and ask the question, "What does it take to stay healthy?"
Equal parts social history and personal history, Out in the Rural is a story of both community health and of a stranger's kindness and determination to bring health care to areas out of reach.