Black History: Special Delivery!!
Dr. Harold Freeman (1933 – ) is a national expert when it comes to poverty and cancer. Born in Washington DC, Freeman attended Catholic University and then went to medical school at Howard University. Freeman began his medical career at Harlem Hospital in 1967. He was alarmed to discover that many of his patients suffered with advanced stages of cancer. Freeman made it his mission to determine why his primarily African American patients experienced such a high mortality rate. His goal was to reduce the health disparities for cancer patients that were associated with race and income.
Freeman launched two free breast and cervical cancer screening centers in Harlem to help improve opportunities for early detection. He also published the groundbreaking report, “Cancer in the Economically Disadvantaged,”. This report established the connection that existed between poverty and cancer mortality. From 1988-1989, Dr. Freeman was president of the American Cancer Society and lead its “Initiative on Cancer and The Poor”. Freeman also served as the director of the Department of Surgery for 25 years at Harlem Hospital from 1974 – 1999. He also served as a professor of clinical surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Since 1991, Freeman has been the chairman of the U.S. President’s Cancer Panel.
In 1990, Freeman launched the concept of “patient navigation” with the goal of eliminating barriers to early screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The patient navigation model has shown efficacy and has been expanded to reduce mortality in other chronic disease areas. The Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute was opened in 2007, with a $2.5 million dollar grant from the Amgen Foundation. The institute is located in Harlem and provides patient navigation training and best practice education and offers patient navigation certification to professionals.