Farewell to St. Vincent's

The New York Times offered some great coverage of the events and emotions surrounding the final days of St. Vincent's Hospital, which closed for good this past Friday. Staff gathered for a Mass and barbeque and offered each other support. And while many mourned the loss, they also remembered the good the hospital has done.

St. Vincent’s was inexorably defeated, [said Sister Miriam Kevin Phillips, known as Sister Kevin, a nurse and a nun with the Sisters of Charity,] by its devotion to the poor and by the transformation of the Village from a home for immigrants and the working class to a neighborhood filled with wealthy people who were drawn to more prestigious academic medical centers.

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She had seen it with her own eyes, as a lifelong Village resident, and as a nurse and later senior vice president for mission at St. Vincent’s. “As the population changed, the type of patient who came into St. Vincent’s changed too,” Sister Kevin said.

The exodus of Village residents to other hospitals is backed up by State Health Department data, which show that before the closing, the 11 nearest zip codes accounted for only 37 percent of St. Vincent’s patients. When the Titanic sank, Sister Kevin said, the Sisters of Charity wired the rescue ship, the Carpathia, that St. Vincent’s ambulances would be waiting at the dock, but would take only passengers from steerage. They knew, she said, that the rich passengers would be taken care of.

Like almost everyone saying goodbye, Sister Kevin said that St. Vincent’s had shaped her life. Living on West 13th Street as a teenager, she admired the nurses in their crisp uniforms and determined to become one of them.

The Times also offered an audio slideshow containing some moving accounts from long-time staff members, who recalled their years of service at the hospital, as well as a second slideshow containing images of an artist's interpretation of St. Vincent's final days.

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