This Isn't Science Fiction

The New York Times, Tuesday, January 24, 2012 9:40 AM
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In his "Gateway" series, begun about 34 years ago, science fiction writer Frederick Pohl envisioned a future in which people would voyage to sun- blasted planets for the meager chance of striking it rich. Why? So they could get affordable healthcare and express-lane status for organ replacement. Welcome to the future: if you can afford it, your mitral valve adjustment now comes with bed linens by Frette, a private gourmet cook, polished marble, huge windows, a man in a black vest and tie "the butler" and maybe a private fountain or two. This would be at Greenberg 14 South (no relation, I'm sad to report) the elite wing on the new penthouse floor of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell hospital.

Competition for wealthy patients willing to pay extra means many American hospitals now have a V.I.P. floor with lavish services. They include Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, which promises “the ultimate in pampering” in its $3,784 maternity suites. Hospitals in places like Singapore and Thailand offering up the very best that the very best expect to get. Here at our Lenox Hill Hospital, parents with newborns in the intensive-care unit complained that security guards had restricted their movements and papered over hospital security cameras in their zeal to please Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) and Beyoncé Knowles, whose daughter was born on Jan. 7 in a new “executive suite.”

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