A community in mourning leaves its messages

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editorial director/interim editor-in-chief 

Each day, Alison Bulman walks by the closed doors of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village on her way to work as the senior editorial coordinator at the American Journal of Nursing. She has watched the number of testimonies left on the doors boarded up in April grow, as former patients leave messages of gratitude, anger, and sorrow for the loss of this 160-year-old institution.  Alison thought they were worth sharing, and we agreed. So she took a great series of photos, which we’ve now collected in AJN‘s Flickr stream.  

My first news story for AJN was about four nurses who worked at St.Vincent’s and who died while vacationing together. And in AJN’s first issue after September 11, 2001, we wrote about St.Vincent’s major role in treating victims and first responders after the attacks on the World Trade Center. 

As a New Yorker and a nurse, I share the sense of loss felt for this venerable institution—not as much for its past as for the loss of a major health care center in a community that depended on it for access to care. The closing of the emergency department has already had repercussions: the Wall Street Journal reported on June 17 that ER visits in the surrounding hospitals were up. And midwives who practiced at St. Vincent’s were left in the lurch without physician back-up agreements (the good news it that this might be resolved shortly—a bill that would grant certified nurse midwives the right to independent practice has passed both houses of the New York State legislature and is waiting for the governor’s signature). 

But check out the photo gallery—the signs posted on the closed doors say it all.

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