Final good-byes are often bittersweet, sometimes very sad, occasionally happy. Sometimes none of the above.
Having stated that, my older daughter and I said good-bye to one of her doctors, who is now retiring. Dr. A has been Jess's endocrinologist since she was a preschooler, and he has been one of the leaders in this field. But doctors do retire and the patients have to say farewell and find someone else to see.

But at least we have a good-bye to say. Years ago I saw a dentist in Brooklyn, Dr. Bass, who was excellent and very patient. Tragically, he died when he was in his early 60s. Years earlier I saw an orthodontist who seemed to leave our neighborhood under peculiar circumstances; fortunately I was just about finished with my orthodontic regimen. And a few months ago one of my doctors, my ob-gyn, along with his wife, the nurse, also retired. I'm still wondering who I will go to now.

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Back to Dr. A, who has been a wonderful, patient doctor with a quirky sense of humor. He would speak with Jess about skiing (he grew up in Canada) and always asked her about how she was doing in school. Typically she answered (get ready for this) "Okay."  But now Jess will no longer see Dr A twice yearly, and we will not be going over to Brookdale Hospital any longer.


Brooklyn's Brookdale Hospital is nearly a century old, and from the early 1930s through 1963 it was called Beth-El Hospital. The neighborhoods it straddles, East Flatbush and Brownsville, were heavily Jewish in the 1930s and for a few decades before that. However, as they say "the neighborhood changed," and by the early 1960s most of the Jews in the area had moved out. Upward mobility. The secular name Brookdale (a take on Brooklyn, to some extent) was adopted, and the Jewish presence of the hospital and medical center was greatly diminished,

There are ghosts, fading memories and reminders of this Jewish heyday of Brookdale, in the corridor of the first floor of the main building. There are plaques hanging on the walls here, testimonies to the "Daughters Auxiliary Beth-El Hospital" and the "League of the Beth-El Hospital." The names on these plaques and several others are obviously Jewish, and they offer a quiet, oft-overlooked history of a major chapter of this institution. This hallway, located near a few offices and the gift shop, is a tribute to Brooklyn Jewish philanthropy and interest in medical causes.

Most patients here today are African-American and not Jewish; although a few doctors and medical staff are Jewish (I saw two men wearing kipot there on our last visit), these days my daughter and I are not the typical population served here. But I have not minded this at all. Dr A gave Jess excellent care. We also saw a few other doctors here over the years (a neurologist when I had mild carpal tunnel syndrome, an audiologist who tested my hearing and that of Jess and her younger sister, and a few times Jess's local allergist whose main office is closer to our home in Midwood). Brookdale sometimes ends up in the news because high-profile crime victims have been raced to the Emergency Room here. And over the years when I've told people that we saw a doctor or two at Brookdale, some people cringed. Why would you go there, I've been asked. Because we do. Or...did.

So we say good-bye to Dr A and to Brookdale, a part of Jess's life and mine.

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