A conversation on healthcare

Chicago’s Cook County Hospital

In 1976, Studs sat down with three doctors working in Chicago’s Cook County Hospital system: Dr. Quentin Young, Chairman of the Department of Medicine, Dr. Robert Maslansky, Director of Medical Education, and Dr. Lambert King, Medical Director of Cermak Memorial Hospital in Cook County Jail.  (For those readers who aren’t local, Cook County Hospital is where Harrison Ford as Richard Kimble in The Fugitive sneaks in as a janitor on his quest to find his wife’s killer.)

About a decade earlier, in 1965, Medicare and Medicaid had been signed into law and greatly changed how the “sick poor” in Chicago and elsewhere sought and received medical care.  Dr. Young sees a dichotomy developing: the public hospitals, where doctors are paid on a salary, treat patients in order to prevent illness; the private hospitals, where doctors are paid on a fee-for-service basis, treat patients after conditions have already arisen.  He tells Studs, “Our [public hospitals’] interests are changing the social conditions that send people to our doors, treating the patient in an early stage, or better yet, preventing the conditions that make his illness take place” as opposed to his understanding of private hospitals, where “all of their interests are in the sickness.”


Pro and anti healthcare protesters vie for space in front of televison camera. Demonstration for health care in front of the Hale Boggs Federal Building, Poydras Street, New Orleans, 2009.

It is clear that healthcare in the United States will continue to be a major point of contention for voters and elected officials.  Many things in medicine have changed since this interview was recorded forty-one years ago, but much of what these three doctors discuss is still very relevant: the balance of “laying of the hands” with tests and technology, the best way to educate new doctors, and the effects of financial decisions on the health of our nation.

Cook County Hospital photo credit: By Jeff Dahl (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Protest photo credit: By Infrogmation of New Orleans (Photo by Infrogmation) [GFDL 1.2, CC BY-SA 2.0, CC BY-SA 2.5  or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Eugene McCarthy talks politics

It’s primary election day in Illinois (and Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio), and we’re continuing our theme of interviews with and about presidential candidates

In March of 1975, former Minnesota senator Eugene McCarthy joined Studs in the studio to talk about his planned presidential candidacy for 1976.  He ran as an independent candidate for the Committee for a Constitutional Presidency, but withdrew from the election before the primaries.  Jimmy Carter would go on to win the election.

Studs doesn’t speak too much in this interview.  He asks some thoughtful questions and agrees with McCarthy now and again, but most of the program is McCarthy.   Continue reading →

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Presidents and a farewell

A belated happy Super Tuesday to you, readers.

When we vote, who do we vote for?  How can we really know what a candidate is all about?  We visit their websites, look over the literature we get in the mail, but most of our understanding of what a candidate stands for comes through print media, radio, and TV.

Lincoln Douglas debates commemorative stamp, 1958

For this post, we bring you two interviews with writers talking about their presidential subjects.  We start with Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward talking to Studs shortly after the publication of All the President’s Men. They give Studs the details of some of the more exciting and suspenseful moments of their work, and even if you’ve seen the movie or read the book, it’s a jolt to hear it in their own unrehearsed voices.

Next up is Doris Kearns Goodwin talking about her book Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream.  She talks a great deal about how Johnson’s personal life and childhood experiences affected his professional and political life, and how, in her observation, as the world changed he struggled to change with it.  Through her eyes, he becomes a very human figure: “All we saw was this extraordinary powerful character… What I found underneath was an incredibly vulnerable, sad, interesting, terrified man.”

Looking for more?  Check out the post featuring Hunter S. Thompson talking about his book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.

Earlier this week, we learned of the death of Chicago doctor Quentin Young.  In addition to his important work at Michael Reese Hospital and Cook County Hospital, Dr. Young was a fervent activist.  He joined Martin Luther King, Jr. on his march from Selma to Montgomery (and also treated him when he was in Chicago), registered black voters in Mississippi, and in 2001, at 77, he participated in a 167-mile march for universal healthcare.  Dr. Young was both friend and doctor to Studs.

Dr. Young at a rally in San Francisco for single-payer healthcare, 2007.

Dr. Young at a rally in San Francisco for single-payer healthcare, 2007.

At the time of this interview, Dr. Young (who appeared on the show sixteen times!) was Director of Medicine at Cook County Hospital, and he had recently released a memo banning the prescription of sleep aids and other potentially addicting drugs by clinic doctors.  He and Studs talk about the factors that led to this decision, including the financially-driven relationship between pharmaceutical companies and doctors, and the fact that doctors were giving out prescriptions as a substitute for spending time with patients.  Does this sound familiar?  It was 1974.

Photo credits: Lincoln/Douglas: By US Post Office [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.  Quentin Young: Flickr user rstephemi CC BY-SA 2.0.

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