COVID-19 and the Death of a Hospital

Nitin K Sethi, MD, MBBS, FAAN

April 30th, 2010 dawned just like any other April day. As the sun rose along the eastern seaboard, Manhattan came to life with its golden rays. A healthy glow permeated all around. But not all its residents were blessed with this good health. Saint Vincent was sick, terminally sick with multi organ failure. Its corridors once bustling with doctors and nurses in scrubs lay deserted. Its emergency department once full of patients was eerily quiet. Its intensive care units once a melody of ventilator hums and telemetry monitor beeps were quiet as if a great orchestra had played its last composition. Its cafeteria once full of hungry overworked residents had served its last meal. The end had come slowly but now the writing was on the wall. Terminally ill with no hope of a meaningful recovery they said as they went by. The hospital which had once given the gift of life to so many now itself lay on its death bed. Where critically ill patients once received life-saving infusions of antibiotics found itself deserted in its final battle for survival. Saint Vincent found no one to turn to, no one to hold its hand and no one to administer CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). It thought it was too big to fail but no one stepped forward to bail it out. Saint Vincent hospital died on April 30th, 2010.

Image Source: CNN (the picture is purely for information and education purpose)

Saint Vincent’s Hospital or Vinny’s as the residents affectionately referred to it was a large hospital situated in the heart of the West Village. For more than 150 years it served the residents of New York. 1 This is the hospital where the HIV epidemic first exploded in the late 80’s/ early 90s and where the battle against this disease was fought and ultimately won. Vinny was also at the forefront of providing care and comfort when New York City was attacked on September 11th, 2001. If Vinny had not been allowed to die on that fateful day in 2010, it would have certainly opened its wide arms to take care of coronavirus (COVID-19) stricken New Yorkers young and old. Precious lives would have been saved if only Vinny was alive today.