"Excellent...a rousing story of citizen disruption centered on the [visionary] Community Health Center in Middletown, Connecticut. A reader interested in the history of free clinics, or health care in general, will find Peace & Health fascinating and inspiring."
- Publishers Weekly
"Libraries and readers interested not just in healthcare advocacy, but the process of reinventing a system from the microcosm of building a clinic and pathways to using it will find Peace & Health not just idealistic and inspiring, but practical in charting routes to achieving community goals."
- Midwest Book Review
"A colorfully presented and encouraging history of an important community institution."
- Kirkus Reviews
"An antidote to modern cynicism. Charles Barber brilliantly tells the astonishing story of how an idea - healthcare as a right for all - can become a reality in one community. If you think it can't be done, read this book!"
- Danielle Ofri, MD, author of When We Do Harm: A Doctor Confronts Medical Error
"Peace & Health reads like a novel but is all true: an inspiring story about community-based healthcare too easily ignored amidst medicine's penchant for high-tech care."
- Joseph J. Fins, MD, Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics, Weill Cornell Medical College
"In this affecting and expertly crafted book, Charles Barber tells the story of how a few inspired, resourceful, militantly decent people created from scratch an enduring institution that makes a lot of people's lives better. A much-needed reminder of what we're capable of at our best."
--- Carlo Rotella, PhD, Professor of English, Boston College, and author of The World Is Always Coming to an End: Pulling Together and Apart in a Chicago Neighborhood
"For those committed to community engagement, Peace & Health provides a deep wellspring of hope."
- Chyrell Bellamy, PhD, Director, Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health
"More than a history of healthcare innovation, this book celebrates the passion that drives change in the world."
- Ian Roberts, MD, Professor of Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
A chronicle of Middletown, Connecticut’s Community Health Center from its modest beginnings in the 1970s to its frontline fight against Covid-19 today.
In October 1973, recent college dropout Mark Masselli rolled out a sleeping bag in the cold, dangerous North End of Middletown, Connecticut. For three days he half-slept outside the building at 631 Main St. to ambush the delinquent leasee for the keys to the abandoned Carrie Plumbing & Heating Company, soon to be the neighborhood’s Community Health Center. Such was the modest beginning and first location of the CHC, which over the next several decades would evolve from a much-needed independent free clinic providing dental services and sickle cell anemia screenings to a federally qualified health center with numerous locations. Mark, educated in the activism of the 1970s and assisted by proximity to Wesleyan University, was aided by others, including pharmacists, doctors, and community figures who believed in the basic tenet that “healthcare is a right and not a privilege.” They would work to bring patient-centered care to overlooked poor, immigrant, and minority citizens. The steady growth of the CHC and the champions behind it are beautifully featured in pages of full-color and black-and-white photos and news clippings as well as sobering early balance sheets. Their battles, including bureaucratic fights with a callous city hall, prepared the CHC to later respond quickly to the Covid-19 pandemic. Barber’s book boasts attractive layouts and design, vibrantly presenting a thorough timeline of the CHC, its innovations and expansions, and the development of its internationally recognized research entity, the Weitzman Institute. The story is as much about Masselli as a personality as it is about the clinics he founded, and it effectively captures his devotion to equity in health care through shared missives and regular examples of leadership through listening. Still, the book can be a bit dry and textbooklike in its presentation, which might have been alleviated by more expansive interviews and testimonials. Overall, though, there’s a hopefulness in seeing such important services not only surviving, but thriving.
A colorfully presented and encouraging history of an important community institution.