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Dr. Paul O'Rourke '44, the man selected to become the first head of the city's new Department of Health, Hospitals, and Welfare, is not coming to Cambridge.
O'Rourke was scheduled to begin his new job this week, but decided instead to take a teaching position at Stanford University. Accepting Stanford's offer will allow him to continue living in California, where he has worked recently on the state's war on poverty.
His decision appears to mean inevitable delay for the city's ambitious program to improve its health services. The consolidation of the health department, part of the welfare department, and the hospital into a single administrative unit coordinated by one man was pictured as the first step in this program.
Dr. Leona Baumgartner, a visiting professor at the Medical School and former Commissioner of Health in New York City, made the recommendation to consolidate and urged the selection of Dr. O'Rourke as the first commissioner. City Manager Joseph A. DeGuglielmo '29, interviewed O'Rourke in Cambridge late last year and concurred in Baumgartner's choice.
Dr. Baumgartner said yesterday that she regretted O'Rourke's decision not to come to Cambridge. However, she was optimistic that the overall plan to improve the city's health services would survive the setback. "The basic plan is a very sound one, which is, as far as I can tell, backed by major health groups," she declared.
What the city plans to do has not been detailed in public, but in her initial report Dr. Baumgartner discussed ending the "fragmentation" in Cambridge health services, providing more coordination between public and private groups, and changing some existing health facilities, such as the City Infirmary.
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