Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Saving Charity Hospital : Privilege, Complacency and False Sense of Security
I haven’t really been talking about the movement to reopen Charity Hospital that much because honestly I didn’t really feel like the movement made any difference to the people making the decisions about it. Charity is going to sit there because no one in their families or close circle is affected by it. If Charity was the hospital of the rich and privileged it would have been open by the middle of 2006. It’s the same principle that allowed Lusher Charter School to take the biggest, driest public high school building on the Eastbank for their new building while I watched kids at the bus stop at 6AM just to make it all the way to Karr High School across the river after Katrina. It’s the pecking order of this city and unless someone in leadership is willing to speak to that then Charity is going to stay closed. A new hospital complex would be a great thing for way more people in the state than just the residents of New Orleans. If that means having to wait 5-10 years while they got the money, made the plans, and then actually built everything that’s the way it’s going to be. If FEMA commits to any funding for a new facility Old Charity is dead. I hate to be that negative but that’s how I see it.
While I am 100% committed to my opinion about the pecking order, the lack of uprising from the people most affected by Charity being closed baffles me. As a life long New Orleans resident I can truly say that this city is full of some of the most impatient people in the world. Don’t let the dancing and care free attitude at the second lines fool you. There are a lot of people in New Orleans with very bad nerves and always are acting like they have somewhere to be very quickly. This is the same city that every Friday I watch parents act like their children have been held against their will if the weekly assembly runs just two minutes late. They are all snatching kids and running out the door fussing about waiting too long. This is the same place that if someone puts on their blinker and stops to make a left turn, the fifteen cars behind them all jump frantically into the right lane like a NASCAR race almost causing a major accident just to go a few blocks to the next stop light. I have been at work, with a group of people working as fast as they could to serve every customer in the building and watched the 99th person in line cuss us all out for being too damn slow and taking up all his time even though he had just walked in the door. The same nervous people, who act like they can’t wait for anything can look around their community everyday, see what hasn’t been done and let that slide without raising hell. If the people took their regular approach to life and applied it to the recovery they probably would have went down to Tulane Avenue and cleaned Charity themselves, had a few uprisings at City Hall and drove to DC looking for the president to give him a piece of their minds too. That’s the New Orleans I grew up in. Maybe their so quiet because they understand the pecking order too and don’t want to rock the boat.
Of course none of this applies to me because I don’t need Charity open like some of these losers in the hood do. See, I am successful black man. I have a desk, a phone, some business cards and an email address at my job. Every now and then they let me go places and talk to people. I know I went to public school and my baby goes to one now, but I am different from those other families. I don’t have Section 8, food stamps or a housing voucher. I don’t need the government to do anything for me unless a hurricane comes then I need my FEMA check. I have an HMO that my American liberty gives me the right to pay too much for. I can go to any hospital in the area and get help as long as I can survive a drive across town and after I get there my plan actually covers what’s wrong. Don’t be jealous because I am a real American. Maybe instead of crying about not having any affordable health care the needy should just build a hospital themselves or practice home remedies like the ancestors. I know my neighborhood doesn’t have a hospital either but it’s got to be coming soon because we all have good jobs and the city wants us to be here. I know I will never be in the position to need Charity again. At least that’s what I keep telling myself to erase the guilt of just watching it sit there and not saying anything.