The Story of Homer G. Phillips Hospital


“A Jewel in History: The Story of Homer G. Phillips Hospital” is a film that Ms. Mukulla Godwin used to describe the issues surrounding the medical facility. She decided to talk about the hospital and the problems that its staff faced after her friend, Paula Rogers, had told her a lot of information concerning Ida Northcross, MSN, RN, who headed her section in a dictatorial way. Northcross ran the surgical nursing department and did not tolerate any form of disorder. It is a story about the nursing career, the situation of African-American students who graduated with such qualifications, and relationships among the hospital staff and the community. The purpose of this assignment is to explore the issues of health care and health disparities in St. Louis by considering evidence (or lack thereof) for a major public health event in the community, namely the closure of H. G. Phillips Hospital, and its ramifications for the local public health, and medical communities today.

Question 1

In general, the film raises several disturbing issues of the American health care in the early 20th century. For instance, Godwin1 indicated that the extent of disparity in accessing health care services between the Americans and African-Americans at St. Louis resulted in the creation of H. G. Phillips Hospital. This issue is really disturbing and the one that raises concerns. Since the hospital only intended to serve black people who dominated the area, its medical services were of low quality. Despite appearing as a relief to the African-Americans who could only receive medical care as assistance, the hospital mainly worked with the black patients. It means that the health standards that the facility offered were generally low compared to other hospitals that the whites visited.

The other issue that became prominent was the degree of patient’s sickness before one could get admitted to the hospital. For example, the spinner had to work until he became very sick. Only after that he could go to the hospital.1 The situation was different in the cases of the white residents since those of them who showed symptoms of illness were taken to the hospital immediately. This fact demonstrates the discrimination between the two groups despite the fact that they shared similar geographical environment.

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Question 2

The closure of the facility was really an issue of concern and not evidence-based. The audience remains wondering what went wrong in the hospital that was meant to cushion the low-income groups, especially the African-Americans. In their opinion, there was no justification for the shutdown of the medical facility that was of significant help to poor and vulnerable immigrant population in the country. For instance, the film shows that the people who visited the facility were generally low-income servants of African origin as in the case of Lisa K. Blatt.1 They did not have other ways of getting quality health care in this area that left H. G. Phillips Hospital as the only viable alternative.

Question 3

Having explained that the decision to close the hospital was not evidence-based, one should state that it had several ramifications. First, the African-Americans who lived in St. Louis could not get proper medical attention whenever they fell sick. During the time the facility remained empty, the black population had to seek the medical intervention at charity wards of the City Hospital. Lapworth and Cook2 argued that this perpetuated discrimination even further because the black residents could not get better services than those they were previously able to receive at H. G. Phillips Hospital. The other consequence that is mentioned in the work of Lapworth and Cook2 is that many African-Americans would continue dying from preventable diseases due to poor medical care. The reason is that the City Hospital could as well withdraw charity services for such patients. The film shows that there would be increased pressure on the City Hospital, thus compromising the quality of health care for patients. The other result was that the public health community had to intensify their activities to make sure that they could provide many patients with the emergency needs at the local level.

Question 4

The evidence that I would use to make the decision about the continuation of H. G. Phillips Hospital would include the number of patients that the facility served, and their economic and social statuses. In addition, the type of disease each of them suffered from and the kind of medical attention that they needed could be of significant importance to justify the continuation of the hospital. Its closure was just an unfortunate thing that happened to the black community living in the area. My assessment may have changed the outcome because after considering the number of inpatients, their socio-economic situations, the facility management and the area administration, one would have remained firm concerning the provision of the health care for low-income and other groups of people residing in the area. They would ensure that the facility is upgraded and remains in operation to continue helping the African-Americans.

Question 5

The film is significant in shaping opinion about the residents of St. Louis. First of all, I believe they were discriminated based on the color of their skin and race. Secondly, it seems to me that African-Americans formed the low-class in terms of social and economic ladders. Thirdly, the authority of the area is less concerned about their welfare and health situation, thus any decision affecting the people does not matter for them.

This film has several implications to my public health education and activities. For instance, I have realized the need to protect the integrity and status of a health facility. Moreover, I have learnt to uphold professionalism and ethics while undertaking health care activities so that I do not rub shoulders with fellow senior and junior employees. The practice would help me avoid controversies with the colleagues such as those that Ida Northcross met in the course of her work.

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