How hospitals morph

John Taylor: October 03, 20070 Comments

Hospitals are memory-makers. So I had to pause when I read that New York State is paying $360 million to close or merge 23 hospitals and seven nursing homes, to reduce excess beds.

One of the closures is Victory Memorial Hospital, serving my old 'hood of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, N.Y.  They could've put in a turnstile for me in the 1950s and early 60s.  Endless Christmas music piped in. Doctors showing up late for surgery, toting holiday gifts as they passed groggy appendix-removal patients like me.  It overlooked a golf course, and some patients felt like their care was way out of bounds. It was a victory if you got out of there alive, one recent blogger wrote.

Another hospital, where I was born, is now a home for elderly adults. The Milwaukee hospital where my daughter was born no longer delivers babies. And another Milwaukee hospital, Mount Sinai Medical Center (where my boss smoked cigars endlessly and his assistant knew a great borscht diner, not far from where Jeffrey Dahmer lived) merged with Good Samaritan Medical Center to become, well, something other named Aurora.

The run-down, inner city New York hospital where my father died is in new quarters and is a highly regarded Level 1 trauma center -- bad memory made good. I hope the same can be said in future years of the 23 hospitals that are being closed or merged to increase revenue for those that remain.