Scott Early

Scott Early

Scott Early

Chief Medical Officer
Lynn Community Health Center

Since he was in junior high school, Dr. Scott Early knew he
wanted to be a doctor. When he didn’t get into medical school,
he applied for the JVC, willing to go anywhere that wasn’t in
the Southern United States.

“The impression in my mind was that that was the last place I
wanted to be,” Early said. “Then they told me a health center in a
little town in Louisiana needs someone just like you.”

Early spent 1981 working in the Teche Action Clinic, a federally
funded health care center on Bayou Teche in Franklin, Louisiana. He
worked in a laboratory as well as a nearby hospital, though the
lessons that remain had less to do with the mechanics of health
care than the politics of providing care for those who could not pay.

“I participated in lobbying efforts to keep the health center open”
during a political movement to close the centers, he said. “It was an
amazing year that taught me stuff I never would have learned in
med school.”

He was accepted into medical school following JVC, training as a
family doctor and accepting a job at a small community health center
in Rhode Island. There, he started an innovative residency program
that trained young doctors in a community health setting.

He moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1993, and by the next
year, the first class of residents at the community health center
started learning.

“It truly transformed heath care in Lawrence,” Early said. “It’s a poor
city with a population of about 75,000, mostly Dominicans. Prior to
this it was a tiny struggling organization with about 9,000 patients.
We were always looking for money and had trouble keeping
doctors. It was really not able to meet a fraction of the demand.
We attracted a lot of people who wanted to teach at the health center,”
because of the residency program.

Five former residents of the program were also former JVs, Early said.
“We were unabashed about social justice,” he said. “We were training
physicians who wanted to work in that model.”

After nearly 17 years there, he left to work as the chief medical officer
at the Lynn Community Health Center in Lynn, Massachusetts.
“We’re coming up close to 40,000 patients and we’re still growing,” he said.