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Mrs. Vivian Strong is a registered nurse who was hired to observe and report on conditions in a surgical area of the hospital. Her observations, covering a period from February through March of this year, sound like a replay of de Hartog’s book. After describing the nightmare which has been Houston’s “charity” hospital; de Hartog tells of his futile, steadfast attempts to raise some kind of concern among the people of Houston for the indigent sick. \(One chapter describes his address to 150 River Oaks matrons and the collection of $11 in donations as a result. His only consolation was that five of the ladies signed up to train as volunteers to Ben Taub General Hospital is financed jointly by Harris County and the City of Houston. It lacks money because the two governmental bodies quibble over who has to pay the tab. When the resultant bad conditions have gotten publicity in the past, the mayor, the county judge, the commissioners court, and the city council have always managed to place the blame on each other or someone else. There have also been charges of deficiencies in hospital administration. The doctors, the nurses, the orderlies, and even the housekeeping staff are fine. For far too little pay, they drain their energies into the bottomless pit of human misery, not because they couldn’t work elsewhere under better conditions, but because they really care. They try, ineffectually, to conceal their compassion behind a facade of briskness and efficiency. Possibly it was their concern which infected de Hartog. Whatever it was, his efforts to promote an epidemic of concern at first seemed doomed to molder in the shade of Houston’s extravagant domed sports stadium. But there is hope. De Hartog’s work has resulted in the establishment of Red Cross volunteer services within the hospital, and hundreds of newly trained volunteers are relieving the overburdened staff. The profits from The Hospital have been given by 14 The Texas Observer EUR OPE An unregimented trip stressing individual freedom. Low cost yet covers all the usual plus places other tours miss. Unless the standard tour is a “must” for you, discover this unique tour before you go to Europe. EUROPE SUMMER TOURS 255 Sequoia, Dept. JPasadena, California the_author to a national fund for volunteer nursing assistance. Publicity from the Houston Chronicle \(which supported de Hartog’s campaign relative latecomer, has not only brought public attention to the problem. There has been some earnest soul-searching on the part of elected officials, all of whom are now deeply interested in hospital conditions. A sudden deluge of criticism from within the hospital occurred in early December. Two days after a newspaper reporter was ejected from a meeting of the hospital board of managers \(arousing the started making public their own grievances against the deficiencies in resources for patient care. De Hartog’s charges, which had been criticized by some public officials as exaggeration, were finally substantiated by the unimpeachable testimony of the people best able to provide the inside story. Several days later orders were published against the release of statements by doctors concerning the hospital without prior inspection by the chairman of the board of managers, but the dike had already fallen, and the squalor in Ben Taub Hospital could not be hidden any more. De Hartog debated public officials on local and national television, and, though more heat than light was generated, people began to be seriously concerned about Houston’s image. In mid-December the Houston Post’s petition campaign, with the active cooperation of Mayor Louie Welch, succeeded in obtaining a date for a hospital district election, January 23. The board of managers, meanwhile, switched the much-criticized hospital administrator, A. S. Reaves, to a new position of “counsellor,” replacing him with James E. Pears, a seemingly restless young man who had spent some time as assistant administrator at Houston’s Methodist Hospital and seemed eager to get the new job. The hospital district idea is susceptible to legitimate criticisms, criticisms that can be applied to any special district, but they are not likely to be heard in the clamor for “removing hospital care from politics.” The steamroller campaign by both newspapers, a powerful conglomeration of organizations, and local officials will not easily be slowed by abstract considerations, no matter how logical. The most important question won’t necessarily be answered by the establishment of a hospital district. It’s quite possible that a strong vote for it will indicate merely that Houston’s veneer of pride has been scarred by the compelling conscience of a Dutch sailor. If this is the case it won’t take five years for Houston’s charity hospital to become a chamber of horrors again. My roots are planted deep in Houston, and it seems clear to me that de Hartog’s conscience is not adequate to keep the quality of compassion living in my home town. In attempting to break the apathy of Houstonians toward indigents, he took on a Goliath, but he is a formidable man, and Goliaths have fallen before. The Best Part Roxy Gordon There was this band that the dance committee had hired at a cut-rate price, and it wasn’t worth a damn. The leader was a sideburned, curly-locked character who didn’t look any older than any of us and looked like he should have been playing some kind of Jerry Lee Lewis rock and roll instead of the starlight and champagne stuff he was trying. So about eleven I decided to heck with it and went outside for some fresh air. Our gala little affair was going on on the top floor of the hotel, and there was some kind of convention on the next floor, which was just breaking up. So naturally the elevators were busy, and I decided to walk. Down I wentall twelve stories just me on those bare, eleven o’clock hotel stairs. I passed lone bare light bulbs at each floor, and every once in a while, a tray some bellboy had left with empty whiskey bottles, smoked cigars, and little wax-covered, wood-grained paper ice buckets on them. Boy, th4t got to be work after a while, so about three floors from the bottom, I loosened my tie and took off my jacket; and by the time I got to the lobby, I was flat bushed. There were a few bald-headed conventioneers standing around with little plastic covered cards on their chests that said, “Hello, I’m Somebody from Somewhere. Who are you?” Some of them were talking in little groups, and others were just sitting, getting one last smoke before going to bed or up to somebody’s room for a party. None of them even noticed me when I walked past to the glass doors I opened to meet the Dallas night, head-on. The city at night. Lights everywhere: lighting lights, sign lights, dim lights, bright lights, flashing lights. And cars; numberless cars moving in a two-way, unending stream, their colors lost in a million highlights from a million city lights. And also noise: cars, horns, music, Roxy Gordon, a young man now working Coleman County. This story more or less happenedhe says it is “a short story, or more accurately, a piece of autobiography.” Texas Society To Abolish Capital Punishment P. Q. BOX 8134 AUSTIN, TEXAS 78712 The next generation may look upon the death penalty as an anachronism too discordant to be suffered, mocking with grim reproach all our clamorous professions of the sanctity of life. Benjamin Cardozo REGULAR MEMBERSHIP $2 CONTRIBUTING MEMBERSHIP $5 SUSTAINING MEMBERSHIP $10