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The Medicine Cabinet

The Loss

To understand everything wrong about health care in America today, look to a horrifying trend in amputation.

A bright sans-serif sign announces the location as if for a lemonade stand—HAVE A SEAT / OCEAN PROMENADE’S NURSES WILL BE RIGHT WITH YOU—but this is a place where toes are denumbered, heels unrounded, and ankles disarticulated. Out of elevators, blanket-lapped four-wheelers are still emerging. Some trail tubes. They station themselves in peloton-like rows down the center’s hallway to the café, where multiple mop-wielding orderlies hoof back and forth at the front of the lunch line, demarcated by a cautioning yellow placard. It is 10 past 10. The semi-private room of 54-year-old Von Brunson is at the far end of the second floor, above the patio where a young girl brushes sand off the tennis-balled bottoms of her grandmother’s rhinestoned walker. The Beacon—known as Ocean Promenade until Hurricane Sandy sent floodwaters up its rampways in 2012—is a newly renovated rehab facility in the beachy part of Brooklyn: Far Rockaway, the neighborhood where Brunson lives with his wife.

Back-to-back Steve Harvey reruns blare from a blinking 15-inch set; there is an immense amount of panning. Brunson leans on elbows over a chipboard table reminiscent of the design... Continue Reading

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