In 2018, Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital joined the in-crowd, declaring their state of wokeness to the world by removing all traces of old white guys from its hallowed halls. These white guys (and one Chinese guy) were retired department chairs and contributors to the hospital’s long history. Their gold-framed portraits on the walls served as a reminder to the students of color that they are not properly represented, or something.
“[The portraits] mirror the other images around the school and other universities. I almost expected to see that,” said Titilayo Afolabi, a first-year student, adding that “it’s easy to remove people from the wall. It’s more difficult putting people of color in power.”
I know the number one thing I’m looking for in a hospital is how many minorities are on staff. It’s of no concern to me whatsoever that they be competent doctors, or anything. Wait, strike that. Reverse it. In what reality does any patient entering a hospital for a medical problem seriously care about the color of their doctor? Besides on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, where some weirdo with swastika tattoo objects to someone darker than him as his physician, does this ever happen? Do people really care about race or do they want the best doctors they can pay for? In my experience, those doctors are usually Indian, but who’s counting when your life is on the line?
Patients in need of good medical care should avoid Brigham and Women’s Hospital. As Becker’s Hospital Review reports, “Dr. Nabel, the institution’s first female president, said the hospital is working hard to increase its diversity efforts, noting Brigham and Women’s has appointed its first diversity and inclusion officer for faculty, developed a leadership program for women and minorities, and has begun creating guidelines to minimize hiring bias, the report states.”
Crossing that one off the list. Any hospital that puts “diversity” ahead of skill and talent isn’t any place I want to be when I’m dependent on its doctors to not make giant mistakes leading to my death. I can’t be the only one. Already, almost 100,000 people die every year from hospital negligence. Are they trying to increase that statistic? Since when is being a minority a good indicator of whether or not you can take out a spleen? (Or tell the left knee from the right knee, as it may be needed to avoid operating on the wrong leg.) Medicine should not be an experimenting ground for the social justice brigade to put on their little diversity plays. Leave that garbage for the universities and book publishing. But in hospitals, hiring unqualified people means that people are going to die.
But that’s irrelevant. What really matters is how the former students and doctors feel about it. Just ask this poor guy, the former dean of Harvard Medical School and a Brigham and Women’s alum, who dared to tweet out a photo of the bare walls where the portraits of white guys used to hang. He’s sorry now.
When I last lectured in @BrighamWomens Bornstein auditorium, walls were adorned with portraits of prior luminaries of medicine & surgery. Connecting to a glorious past. Now all gone. Hope everyone is happy. I’m not. (Neither were those I asked- afraid to say openly). Sad. pic.twitter.com/Bsz89r2SBB
— Jeffrey Flier (@jflier) April 12, 2019
If you don’t want your IQ lowered, stop reading now before you get to the replies.
Perhaps it’s glorious for you, a white man who can identify with these men. For others it is a reminder that we still do not have full representation and that the profession was built by people who didn’t represent us.
— Brooke Vittimberga (@brookevitti) April 13, 2019
My twin sister and I are HMS alums. When I read your tweet this morning, I had a visceral reaction. Do you realize that the wall of "prior luminaries of medicine & surgery" also represents a wall of racial and sexist practices and policies? 1/3
— Uché Blackstock, MD (@dr_uche_bee) April 14, 2019
Yes, yes, everything and everyone is racist. We know. Again, avoid this hospital if you want to live. Just saying.