History of Medicine
The Emergency Room
The Emergency Room by Jose Perez
(Oil on Canvas, 24in x 30in, 61.5cm x 77cm)
Copyright: This image may not be saved locally, modified, reproduced, or distributed by any other means without the written permission of the copyright owners.
While planning this painting, Perez spent a night at a large city hospital emergency room and was reminded of the night he and his wife had taken his ill grandson to the ER. There, Perez and his wife found a long line of people waiting to be cared for, with nowhere else to go for treatment. Although most of the crowd waited patiently, one old man grew tired of waiting and decided to do something about it. He stretched himself out in the middle of the floor, pretending to be near death. Immediately, two men came with a stretcher, picked the old fellow up, and hauled him into an examining room.
In his painting, Perez has the members of the medical staff towering over the crowd of diminutive patients, symbolizing the sometimes intimidating nature of today's hospitals. While death waits in the form of a vulture perched atop the stoplight, the TV cameraman tries to catch a little drama for the eleven o'clock news.
The lame, the blind, the pregnant, and the sick migrate endlessly to the center of the canvas, where they are unceremoniously shoveled onto the examining table like pieces of coal into a furnace, with no privacy or sanctity.
While the antique ambulance is a reminder of the days of World War I, the contemporary posters of the wall bring today's health-education efforts into view. The policeman tries to stop the flow of patients. As the street vendor displays her wares, she views the scene and, like so many of us, is glad she is only a spectator -- at least for today.