Below is an excerpt of an op-ed piece that Lisa Levenstein wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer about government involvement in health care and the Philadelphia General Hospital. She uses “Old Blockley,” as it was often called, as an example of a a successful public hospital that treated everyone with compassion. Levenstein is an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the author of A Movement Without Marches: African American Women and the Politics of Poverty in Postwar Philadelphia (2009).
Below is a selection of the entire article by Levenstein:
Americans looking to improve their health-care system – and wondering about the implications of more government involvement – can find valuable lessons in Philadelphia’s recent past. In the decades following World War II, Philadelphia had a successful public hospital that enjoyed widespread public support and an excellent national reputation.
Philadelphia General Hospital was affectionately known as “Old Blockley,” having succeeded the Blockley Almshouse in what was once Blockley Township, now University City. It served city employees and patients who were indigent or could not get care elsewhere . . . At a time when our nation faces hard choices about the kind of health care we want, this is an important example of government-funded health care that worked. It’s also a reminder that the public has historically supported government expenditures on high-quality, effective treatment provided as an entitlement for all.