Editorial: Dr. Quentin Young was the best of doctors

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Dr. Quentin Young

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What always struck us as remarkable about Dr. Quentin Young is that he managed to hold down big, important, establishment jobs.

Dr. Young was a fighter for social justice every day of his life, which can be a terrific way to end up in an unemployment line. He scolded public officials, locally and nationally, who would short-change health care for the poor and powerless. He led the fight, sure to make him enemies, to desegregate Chicago hospitals. Yet he was chairman of Cook County Hospital for many years and once ran the Chicago Board of Health.

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Our theory is this: Dr. Young was just too good a doctor and administrator to be exiled for too long. He might get fired — and he was, in fact, dismissed as head of the county hospital three times — but mayors and county board presidents would pick up the phone and bring him back.

The rightness of Dr. Young’s cause was impossible to deny. Anybody could see it. That, too, explained his success. He understood the interplay of social factors, such as poverty and racism, in health care, and he advocated all his life for this larger approach to delivering care.

Dr. Young, who died Monday at age 92, was a rebel because he was the best of doctors.

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