Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Remembering Kansas City's General Hospital

Back in the fifties when we lived in Harlem, my parents didn't have insurance for a while (and very little money).  I was probably thirteen years old when I came down with a raging case of tonsillitis.  I recall tossing around, feverish, on the couch in front of our black-and-white television while my parents were at work.  Days went by and I wasn't getting any better; finally, Mother took off work and drove me to General Hospital early one morning.  
I remember, even now, how awful I felt, weak as a kitten and half-nauseous.  At General it was first come, first served, unless you had something majorly wrong like a bullet wound.  We waited and waited until after noon, and I still hadn't been seen; I felt so bad, I begged Mother to just take me home, and she did.  I got well on my own.  
Cliff had a lot of experience with General Hospital too; his family lived hand to mouth during his growing-up years, so it was their hospital of choice.  He too has terrible memories of the place, although his mother did beat cancer, thanks to them.  I wish I had a picture of the place as it was in the fifties.    
Why am I bringing this up?
General Hospital was replaced by Truman Medical Centers.  That's where the poor folks go these days, those who aren't fortunate enough to have insurance, the people who are picked up in gutters half-dead from a drug overdose.  It's a decent hospital, by the way.  They certainly fill a need.  "Give me your tired, your poor," I hear them say.  
I have a feeling they are about to get a lot more business.  
I read an article from the Washington Post today (you can read it HERE) that tells me a lot of doctors are no longer accepting new Medicare patients because they're only going to get half as much money from Medicare as they've been receiving.  This isn't something that will happen in ten or twenty years; it starts in December.  As Cliff's heart doctor said, "Welcome to Obamacare."    
I was telling Cliff about this today and he said, "Then what will we do for a doctor?"  
"We'll have to go to Truman East," I told him.  "and wait our turns, just like we used to do at General Hospital."    



Paula said...

I though General Hospital was a TV show. Not making fun I really didn't know there was a real hospital by that name. The county hospital in san antonio where the poor had to go was named Robert B. Green. Glad you got well to tell us about it.

Midlife Mom said...

Does this post ever bring back memories for me! We too went to a small hospital called Lincoln General Hospital in the nearest large town (well larger then our small town of 400). I remember when my mother had my younger brother and sister she was on a ward of about 14 other ladies, no private rooms back then, well at least not for us. We used to go and wait for an appointment too like you did and sometimes ended up going back home. The nurses were nice but terribly overworked. The only time I stayed overnight was when I had my tonsils out and they brought me ice cream which was so soothing on my throat! Great post!

Anonymous said...

:-) I always say if I get shot, take me to Truman!

Anonymous said...

I actually had insurance but went to Truman as it was a teaching hospital and the only hospital, at the time, that did gastric bypass surgery. Most of the patients there did not have insurance. I can't say that I noticed a difference in the doctors and nurses, but did notice a difference in the support staff.