My office is in the Barringer building, and Barringer opens onto Hospital Drive. 5th floor Barringer, up and down my corridor, used to be a hematology ward. What used to be the hospital chapel, four floors below, is now a venipuncture lab. What we call the new hospital, now open for 20 years, is across the street, next to Primary Care, which is no longer primary care. The general medicine clinic is now past the railroad bridge and on the 3rd floor of what used to be the Towers Nursing Home. Looking east from clinic I can see the two acre hole where the new children’s hospital will rise. It used to be a parking lot. Looking west from clinic I can see the new clinical cancer center. It used to be a parking garage. A chair lift could connect the medical clinic to the hospital, and there are days we could all use a chair lift. The “new” hospital, under expansion, is there behind the scaffolds. Off to the far right, partially obscured by the multistory façade of the old hospital, which is no longer a hospital, the dome of the Rotunda rises above what is still the Lawn of the University of Virginia. Edgar Allan Poe lived in a room on the West Range of the Lawn. The door to his old room is glass, and there’s a stuffed raven on the period desk, but now his room is closed for repairs. Closer in, on the hospital side of Hospital Drive, halfway between what we call old and what we call new, the Health Sciences Library helps us stay up to date. Recently renovated—fewer books, more computers and classrooms—its historical archive occupies a basement/ground floor that opens unto a construction site where electrical and plumbing systems for core labs are being upgraded.
Our academic medical center, like all academic medical centers, recreates itself while teaching students, training residents and fellows, refining and expanding our understanding of health and disease, and taking care of older and sicker patients with new technology that will be out of date next year. We have a new curriculum for medical students and a new electronic medical record. The work does not get easier. The good old days began yesterday. Especially for old timers.
I’ve been here long enough to know two generations of old timers and be on the verge myself. Back in 1985, when I arrived, the oldest of the old timers had interrupted their academic careers to serve in World War Two in Italy with the 8th Evacuation Hospital. Follow the link to the Health Science Library Historical Archive and the letters of a UVA nurse to the families of soldiers who died in combat. The need to respond to loss and suffering—by condolence note, by story or poem, music or image—brings contributors and readers to Hospital Drive.
Welcome to Issue 6.
Daniel Becker, Editor