OLVG Spuistraat 239

And now for yet another hospital: het OLVG Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis (Hospital of Our Kind Lady). This is the interior of the new policlinic in the city center on the Spuistraat 239. I had to go there to give blood samples for prior to the appointment with the cardiologist. The old policlinic used to be in the former Prinsengrachtziekenhuis (hospital on the Prinsengracht) but that is closed now. I have history there. In 1986 I spent four summer months in bed there suffering from an inoperable infection of the innards. It was a great place, extensive and ramshackle with innumerable corridors and many single wards that made it an excellent place to treat people with infectious diseases. When I was there the AIDS epidemic had just hit the town and little was known about it. The nurses had a hard time watching the young men die. They came often into my ward to sit in the windowsill and cry from hopeless pity and frustration. The building will probably be turned into one of those ‘care hotels’ where people with money can go for revalidation or something. The main OLVG hospital is in Amsterdam East the only hospital still in the city proper and not on the outskirts and is modern to a fault. In the old days the OLVG was a Roman Catholic hospital run by the nuns of the religious order of Our Kind Lady and it was famous for its compassioned care. Apart from the clinical standard the hospital had ‘soul’ so to speak. Unfortunately ‘soul’ seems to be sadly lacking in this new policlinic.

© Peti Buchel