April 4, 1990

Keeper of the Gate

Author Affiliations

Fort Lauderdale, Fla

Fort Lauderdale, Fla

JAMA. 1990;263(13):1825. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440130115038

I must confess that I have, at times, fantasized about how confused my old mentors at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City would be were they to be resurrected and come face-to-face with the complexities of today's technology. The endless monitors, scanners, imagers, and computers would very likely stun them. Long before that might happen, however, at their first entrance into the old building facing Stuyvesant Park East, the simplest of electrical call-boards and beepers, for good reason, would probably arouse more resentment than astonishment. They could boast of having enjoyed a much better arrangement.

They had McCarthy.

Tall, chronically flushed, and gray-haired, McCarthy (no one knew his first name), with his old-style stickpin, hornrimmed glasses, ruddy complexion, and dignified mien, resembled nothing so much as a downtown Tammany Hall politician. A protuberant abdomen bulged against the gunmetal buttons of his meticulously maintained whipcord uniform. He held