Writer’s Workshop: “If The Walls Could Talk”

I’m spending a ouple of hours every day lying around while my leg is emptied of all the lymph that accumulates during the day, and while I’ve never been much for podcasts, I found one that I’m really enjoying.

If The Walls Could Talk is about Edgewater Hospital, at ome time one of the best community hospitals in the country. It was founded by Dr. Maurice Mazel in 1929 and was the birthplace of a couple of (in)famous Chicagoans, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Wayne Gacy. Dr. Mazel ran the hospital until his death in 1979, after which it was run by his wife, who didn’t know much about medicine or how to run a hospital, and was sold in the late 1980’s to a man named Peter Rogan. It closed in 2001 under a cloud of insurance and Medicare/Medicaid fraud and allegations of murder. The buildings were left to rot until a few years ago, when they were torn down or repurposed.

It’s a compelling story for a number of reasons. People who had worked at the hospital were interviewed for the podcast, and you can tell the pride that they had in it and just how emotionally attached they were to it. It was ahead of its time, with a helipad on the roof and a burn unit, and they set a standard for pre- and post-natal care. It was run like a hotel: patients were treated as guests, there were bellhops who took the patients’ bags to their room, the meals were topnotch, and patients were pampered. From a personal perspective, I grew up within a mile of the hospital, and knew kids who had either been patients there or had relatives that had been.

The people who wrote and narrate the podcast are two veteran Chicago journalists, Todd Ganz and Stephani Young. Todd was curious as to what had happened to the hospital, and had started researching that when he lost his full-time job thanks to Covid-19. It’s well researched and written and so far tells a great story. The podcast has a website and a Patreon page. It’s a well-done series and the story is compelling. I recommend it highly.

19 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: “If The Walls Could Talk”

  1. Interesting! I haven’t gotten into podcasts yet but I know some people really love them. Do you listen to any audio books? I usually have one playing if I’m in the car or working at my computer or something.


  2. Definitely a benchmark for current medical facilities (especially where I live) that are strictly “show me the money” before anything else. And, in the past year, the pandemic has created difficult situations, not just for patients, for hospital staffing as well.

    Rest that leg and stay safe, John!


  3. This sounds like a podcast I may enjoy too. I like to hear about medical topics. It’s so sad the hospital had to close, as I definitely understand its former employees were proud of it.


    1. The leg is a chronic condition, I’m afraid, but it does give me a chance to listen to podcasts like yours. You’ve done a great job with it so far, and I look forward to the rest of it!


  4. These 2 men sound very interesting and I bet they have stories to tell like this one about the hospital. What a shame the hospital had to close.


    1. I started listening to Todd and Stephani’s “Second Opinion.” which tells some of the stories that didn’t make it into the podcast. Like a bonus podcast for subscribers. Anyway, there are other stories that they took out of the main podcast but are then in the extra. Really interesting stuff.


  5. Hi John – that sounds a very informative read … glad it’s keeping your mind occupied, while you’re having your treatment … If The Walls Could Talk … excellent title … take care – Hilary


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