I work very close to Columbia Hospital, so I often walk over there around lunchtime to buy something from the vending machines or, occasionally, from the cafe. In an entirely non-racist sense, I can say that Columbia is the most ghettoest place I've been since I moved out of, well, the ghetto. (OK, the Apu Mart on the corner of Humboldt and North is a little more ghettoest). "Ghetto" means, to me, the steadfast refusal to invest one cent in maintenance, upkeep, or other capital improvements, preferring to divert every last cent to profit. In our free-market system, there are really only two sanctions for this behavior. One is the law--which doesn't always work very effectively. The offenses of slum landlords really have to climb to almost unbelievable proportions (like, literally sh*t pouring on people) before the slow-moving arm of the law is roused into action.
The other sanction is social opprobrium--indeed, outrage. I really think this is long due for a comeback. This is a relatively trivial thing, but I've often had trouble with malfunctioning vending machines at Columbia. Today, I literally had just put in my 65 cents for a carton of milk when the machine lost power and conked out. Admittedly, I thought that was hilarious. Still, in light of the parent organization's decision to close Columbia Hospital, I wonder if they are just letting the place slowly die. I take exception to that approach.
I must disclose that one year ago, I went to Columbia for an actual medical procedure: I had an ultrasound of my abdomen taken to see whether my kidneys show signs of Polycystic Kidney Disease, which I have a 50% chance of developing. My care was as professional as I could have asked for. Still, it's hard not to extrapolate from a lack of attention to the little things.