Reviews Personal views

Disappearing hospital

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 09 February 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:373
  1. Mary E Black, Children in Need of Special Protection Measures
  1. Unicef, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    The hospital is disappearing day by day. I sit by my bullet holed kitchen cabinet and watch it through my large picture window — a liability during the 1992-5 siege, but a real estate asset now. Then, mortars poured down on this old hospital from the hills around Sarajevo. It burnt down and, when the last sniper withdrew, Sarajevans salvaged the plumbing, tiles, and the best of the bricks. Now, during the week, staff from the rebuilt nearby state hospital park their cars. During the weekends, families forage in the rubble and squeeze out little vegetable plots, teenagers play basketball and romance, my children roller blade, and I sit on the safest piece of wall discussing life with my husband.

    Hospitals are like coral reefs. On a lifeless shell arises a teeming and complex ecosystem of people, lives, and events. This seems real, solid, and everlasting. My life as a young doctor in Dublin …

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