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Subject: Dr. Kurt W. Deuschle, 79, Leader in Community Medicine

died February 10
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Date Posted: March 02, 2003 10:32:42 EDT

Dr. Kurt W. Deuschle, a leader in creating medical school programs in community medicine, teaching that understanding local culture is a necessity when providing health care in rural and poor areas, died on Feb. 10 at his home in New York City. He was 79.

The cause was complications of Parkinson's disease, his wife, Jeanne, said.

A professor emeritus at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Dr. Deuschle began his career in 1952 with the Public Health Service in Fort Defiance, Ariz. As head of the tuberculosis program at the Navajo Medical Center, he recognized that disease could be prevented most effectively by combining Western and Navajo medical practices and by involving health workers from the community.

He promoted this approach two years later when he was named director of the Navajo-Cornell Health Project, which became a model for programs integrating research, service and education in remote areas.

In 1960, Dr. Deuschle created one of the nation's first departments of community medicine at the University of Kentucky, developing a curriculum that included epidemiology, cross-cultural fellowships and field work.

He moved to Mount Sinai Hospital in 1968 to create a community medicine program focusing on the needs of the residents of East Harlem.

Dr. Deuschle also helped create health programs in Nigeria, China, Vietnam and Turkey.

He was a co-author of "The People's Health: Anthropology and Medicine in a Navajo Community," first published in 1970, and wrote more than 100 articles about community health. He retired from Mount Sinai in 1990.

Kurt Walter Deuschle was born in Germany, and the family immigrated to the United States when he was 1. He grew up in Baden, Pa., graduated from Kent State University and received his medical degree in 1948 from the University of Michigan.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons and a daughter from a previous marriage, Kurt, of Campton, N.H., James, of Tulsa, Okla., and Sally Ann Berger of Clifton, Va.; and eight grandchildren.

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