St. Vincent's Hospital has always occupied a special place in the memory of Catholic New Yorkers. (Full disclosure: I, like Kevin Clarke, was born there). Founded by the Sisters of Charity, St. Vincent's served lower Manhattan and beyond for over 150 years. It acted as a trauma center in the aftermath of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, the sinking of the Titanic and the attacks of 9/11. Sadly, St. Vincent's closed its doors this month, and associate editor Clarke surveyed the scene for America in this special Web only article:
[N]o post mortem of St. Vincent’s would be complete without acknowledging that its mission to the poor itself was a major part of its undoing. Many paying customers opted for Manhattan hospitals with more cachet, but Medicaid patients and the indigent continued to come to St. Vincent’s, adding to a debt burden which by the time of its second and final bankruptcy was over $1 billion.
Even after it closed, the poor still come to St. Vincent’s door. “I believe we had maybe 48 yesterday and in the 60s the day before,” Sister Iannucelli says. “Of course that’s not what we had, but that’s a significant number thinking that tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock the doors will be closed, the emergency department will close, and St. Vincent’s as we know it will not exist anymore.”