About five years ago I got a telephone call from a well-spoken woman of a certain age and, if my ear didn’t betray me, impeccable English erudition. I supposed her some sort of high official at Northwestern Memorial Hospital—or perhaps a chief surgeon’s wife—and she was turning to me in an hour of need. The hospital was dreaming great dreams it did not quite have the wherewithal to execute, she confided, and having been made aware of my past contributions to Northwestern Memorial, she wondered if I might chip in with a little more.
Those contributions consisted of soiled sheets, various vials of bodily fluids, and whatever expenses were not covered by insurance. But I was still alive, so obviously Northwestern had done something right by me, and she charmed me into a solemn vow to dig deeper. However, I set terms. There’s a move afoot to knock down the old Prentice Women’s Hospital, I reminded the cultured English lady, and I ask you to use every last iota of your influence to prevent this travesty.
I sensed hesitation, even confusion, at the other end of the line. When I pressed my point, it became clear that my caller had never heard of the old Prentice Women’s Hospital and had nothing to do with Northwestern Memorial; she was a telemarketer sitting in a call center earning a few grubby dollars. I tell the story to establish that the battle to save Prentice did not begin yesterday and to make it clear which side I’m on. Also to make the point that Northwestern Memorial is no less shameless than anyone else.