No to Howard Roark
July 20, 2011 § 2 Comments
Yesterday, I ran into a bit of hospital promotion that left me amused, but also confused. This anecdote is set against the backdrop of the release of the US News & World Report Hospital Rankings, which has joyously ranked MGH at #2 of the honor roll hospitals and Brigham at #8 (two Partners hospitals in the top 10! new record! two top 10 hospitals in the same city! oh my! and so on), and Children’s Hospital of Boston at #1 for peditaric centers, which naturally paved the way for this kind of subtlety:
I’m a health management intern at MGH this summer, and so I take the Brigham-MGH shuttle to and from work every day. It’s about a half hour commute, and I spend it reading the House of God, which has been doing a great job of keeping it real. Which brings us to yesterday.
I came home from MGH, and cut through the Brigham as I always do, to exit through its back door and on to the HMS quad. It was then that I noticed that written on a large plasma screen was BRIGHAM IS A GOOD CITIZEN IN THE COMMUNITY.
At first I thought, Peter Bent Brigham? Like from the 1800s? Random. Then I grew sensible, and a bit conflicted.
Linguistics friends, does this sentence work? Can a hospital be a good citizen? I’m doubtful. Yet the reverse is true at times. I could say my mom is a pillar of strength, even though she’s not really supporting our roof (actually she might not object to that either…), or that she’s a foundation of support (but that’s stretching it, yeah?). But could I call my mother a good edifice in the community, or a famous tertiary care hospital serving millions? Not unless I was Vladimir Nabokov and being generally ridiculous, but brilliant. But even then.
I want to have a word with Brigham’s PR guy and question the merit of that bit of promotion. And yet I kind of prefer Brigham’s quiet restating of its mission over Children’s’ flashiness, just next door.
Ah! I just realized that my anthropomorphism of these hospitals lends credence to their PR campaign and undermines my whole argument. Dammit.