Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Plight of St. Vincent's: It takes a Village, Old and New United

Todays New York Times, one of my 3 sources of morning adrenaline, addresses the current crisis at St. Vincent's Hospital in a piece titled The Decline of St. Vincents. The piece attributes financial woes of the institution to a composite of forces including the Sisters' of Charity exercise of, well, charity:

"How St. Vincent’s went from a cherished neighborhood institution to one threatened with extinction is a chronicle of increasingly troubled management whose problems were made worse by the economics of the health care industry, changes in the fabric of a historic neighborhood and the low profit potential in religious work."

The article also states that the hospital did not change with the neighborhood and quotes Susan Sarandon:

“I would not want to bring my children there,” Ms. Sarandon declared at a landmarks preservation hearing."

The article opens with the following description:

For more than 150 years, St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan has been a beacon in Greenwich Village, serving poets, writers, artists, winos, the poor and the working-class, and gay people."

It goes on to describe the current clientele:

"In short, many of the patients who frequent St. Vincent’s are part of the old Village rather than the new Village, as was clear from a tour of the emergency room last week. It was electric with activity, every bed filled. Many of the patients were elderly, from Chinatown, or grizzled remnants of the Village’s old working class."

Wouldn't it be great if the denizens of the "new Village" took a page from the Sisters of Charity and behaved like neighbors rather than consumers, becoming activists for the cause of St. Vincent's? Why do we have this "old Village/new Village" healthcare consumption dichotomy? Can't we have one Village that embraces everyone?

Susan Sarandon: Please become part of the solution.

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