Rambling About Old Cook County Hospital And Other Old Things

I’ve just been notified that I’ll be moving back into my old office next week. Just to remind you, here’s what my current office looks like compared with what my old office looked like just before I moved out because of construction:

And I can’t get into my old office yet, but here’s a shot of what the outside looks like now:

Outside of old office

It’s apparently still under construction and I wonder if it’ll look any different. It might look better. I’m reminded of what is happening to the Old Cook County Hospital in Chicago. It’s been undergoing a lot of change recently, which has been reported in the news.

I dimly remember our medical school class visiting County way back in the misty past. I’ve forgotten a lot but I will always remember the huge halls which seemed to stretch for more than a city block.

Dr. George Dunea, one of the physicians who was on staff there years ago has written a couple of articles about the hospital and its storied past. His first article appeared in a 1980 issue of British Medical Journal. His prose meanders and his a desultory, rambling style is as fascinating as the content. His second article is published on line in the Fall 2015 of the Hektoen International Journal of Medical Humanities. Again, it’s fun to follow his story wherever it leads. In the article “Temples of Doom,” Dunea’s description of the view of one psychiatrist is intriguing.

The older I get, the more the section on the “Psychopathology of Aging” seems like a very convincing, non-biological sounding explanation for how we deal with the losses dementia causes.

Many doctors at County learned about the clinical presentation of diseases they probably could not have otherwise learned about, including the many manifestations of syphilis.

I am also fascinated how art can influence the expression of disease and vice versa, telling us more about the humanity of those who suffered from illnesses which had no cure in the past. Dr. Richard Kogan, a psychiatrist and concert pianist, explains what happened to Scott Joplin, a legendary musician, in the early 20th century.

You can repair, repurpose, and reinvent old buildings, old offices, and maybe even old doctors. But you can’t regenerate them…yet.