March 25, 2008

“Save Our Hospitals!” It’s Personal, and Not Just for Me…

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Earlier this week, I wrote about the ongoing struggle to keep Plainfield’s Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center from being closed. By linking the fight to save Muhlenberg to both the general economic crisis the US faces and, perhaps more importantly, the imperial ambitions in the Middle East of the rulers of this country, I indicated that this is a much larger and more significant battle than just saving one hospital.

And, yes, it is all that, but the fight to save community hospitals also hits much closer to home… This history of these community-based hospitals in New Jersey being padlocked is personal.

Nearly 35 years ago, after an industrial accident in Newark, I was rushed by the Ironbound Ambulance Squad to St. James Hospital. The squad members chose St. James because back in the mid-70s it had reputation. among emergency personnel, as the top hospital in Newark. After being treated, the doctors and nurses of St. James made me promise to see my own physician in the morning. While there were no broken bones, nor apparent major injury, the gravity of the accident had them concerned.

St. James was recently closed.

Ten hours later I was on a gurney in a coma at the highly-acclaimed suburban St. Barnabas Medical Center. Staff there spent the entire night trying to locate the neurosurgeon on call 'til my doctor (a surgeon, himself) gave up and had me transfered to inner-city Orange Memorial in East Orange, where he knew a neurosurgeon on staff. The team at Orange Memorial operated to relieve the inter-cranial pressure, located the blood-clot with one of the first CAT-Scans ever performed in NJ, and gave me excellent care for the month I remained in the coma.

St. Barnabas (in suburban Livingston) is flourishing. Orange Memorial, like St. James, is now closed.

The lesson? Medical Centers that the insurance industry demean as “ghetto hospitals” are actually community hospitals where the doctors and nurses care for the sick and injured. The institutions that get the funding, equipments and kudos, on the other hand, tend to be privately-owned facilities with special relationships to the health-insurance industry.

And, as I've seen in a very personal way, it is these community hospitals that save our lives and our families’ lives, while the nationally noted institutions turn people like us out onto the street.

So keeping the community hospitals open is personal, personal to every working-class and minority individual and family in this country!


Anonymous said...

Having recently suffered an injury due to an accident at work I am considering my options, due to the injury I have been unable to work and have not been receiving sick pay, does my boss have an option to pay me or is it dependent on circumstance? I can’t afford not to have money coming in but can’t work should I sue him or do I need a legal professional to speak to him for me? I have seen all those adverts on television about industrial accidents and people foe silly amounts of money, am I entitled to a claim, I don’t want to post personal details but I was working away and fell off something because the support wasn’t secure and broke and I have injured myself!

Maya said...

It is jarring to come into a large well-funded hospital and realize that the high standard of care you have come to expect from hospitals was an expectation implanted from fictional shows about doctors. The current health care climate is ensuring that fictional hospitals are preferable to real ones.

Anonymous said...


APRIL 1, 2008
5:30pm-7:00 pm
(Corner Park Ave. and Randolph Rd.)

Solaris Healthsystems, Inc. hosts a meeting for community leaders at that time. Make your voice heard, “What’s the word? Muhlenberg.”