In 2008, the closing of Michael Reese Hospital was lamented with the sitting of shiva in the home of an alumnus of the institution, a bastion of a South Side with few health care facilities, then or now.
Michael Reese “epitomized a different way of practicing medicine,” Marc Slutsky, a longtime psychiatrist at the hospital, told the Tribune that year. “There was an attitude at the hospital about real personal patient care.”
Jews mourn a relative’s death with a shiva, and similarly to mark the destruction of Jerusalem’s Holy Temple on a day of fasting known as Tisha B’Av. For the observance in 2008, Slutsky suggested including Michael Reese in prayers as a lost pillar of the community, in a shiva he was hosting for fellow congregation members.
“Shortly after it opened in 1881,” the Tribune noted in its story on the closing, “Michael Reese Hospital earned a reputation for being one of the best — an exemplar of an era when medicine was a charitable pursuit, not a competitive industry.”
Also, when a venerable hospital closes, it is an affront to memory.