Today is the first of two days that staff and operations at General Hospital move to their new digs, on the right in the above picture. I know many of our readers have personal connections to this hospital, some even born there!
For the first seven years of my life, my family lived on Cummings Street across the street from the hospital. That hilly stretch of Cummings no longer exists; the houses were torn down to make room for the new hospital. Our next home, where my parents still live, was on Pomeroy Avenue, just a block from the State Street entrance to County-USC.
I came from a family of six kids, but my older brother and sister were the only ones treated at the facility that was once known as General Hospital. My parents paid the medical bills in installments, the way they might for a refrigerator.
. . .
But most of my memories had nothing to do with trauma; they spring from the seemingly endless stories (and the characters that inspired them) associated with a large public hospital.
One window high in the building was dimmer than the rest, and one day a friend and I traveled to that floor by elevator and found amid the gloom a mounted glass display with preserved body parts (or excellent fakes). Other times, I would look out a window and see my mother sweeping the neighbors’ sidewalk.
Gloria Mungaray, a longtime neighbor, remembers taking the elevators to the top of the hospital one night, and crawling with friends to an outdoor ledge to get a view. A solitary chair awaited Mungaray and her friends. Downtown L.A. twinkled and the lights of cars blinked from the East L.A. interchange.
“I was scared, but it was gorgeous,” she recalled.
What’s in store for the famous General Hospital? Months ago, I heard there were plans to convert the upper floors to office space and housing, but according to a graphic accompanying Becerra’s article, the basement and first four floors will remain open as office space and the remaining floors will be closed. I don’t want to see that building torn down. Though it may be old, it’s one of the great and defining buildings of Los Angeles.