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Boss Hague
King Hanky-Panky of Jersey

Part 11

By Jack Alexander

Originally appeared in The Saturday Evening Post on October 26, 1940
Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2002

Up from the municipal rubble which is Jersey City rises, like a beautiful mirage, the soaring buildings of the Jersey City Medical Center. This is one of the monuments to which Hague and his supporters point with pride. In buildings, equipment and personnel, it Is one of the largest and finest institutions of its kind in the country. The only trouble with it is that it is disproportionately magnificent for a town the size of Jersey City, and it is a financial white elephant. The Case Committee found that in 1928 the Jersey City Medical Center took io only $15,000 in fees and had an upkeep expense of $1,000,000. Today the cost of upkeep is estimated at more than $3,000,000 and the intake of fees is probably not much larger than it was.

“Have your baby or your operation on Mayor Hague” is a familiar Jersey City slogan. All hospital services are free, if the patient says he is poor. Practically, the Medical Center is a costly experiment in socialized medicine and it has Jersey City’s physicians at their wits’ end, except for those who are on the staff. No one but Hague knows what the Medical Center cost to build, but competent authorities estimate the investment in building and equipment at $25,000,000. A little less than $5,000,000 in PWA funds went into the layout.

The Medical Center is one of a number of landmarks which show how Hague has stamped his fears and prejudices upon his city. As a child, Hague was sickly and his life was saved through visits to free clinics to which his mother carried him in her arms. As he tells of it, he later resolved that no poor person should ever lack for expert medial attention in Jersey City. His motives were perhaps mixed, - free medical attention has its political as well as its spiritual value to the provider. Hague has maintained the sentimental note in carrying out the whole project. One of the largest buildings, the Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital, is named or his mother.

Hague, although vigorous now, is a confirmed hypochondriac and he hurries to the Center whenever he feels bad. He has a suite of offices in one of the buildings and he spends as much time there as he does in his office at City Hall. He takes delight in showing visitors around the hospital plant and walks through the corridors with an air of reverence, picking up stray gum wrappers and other minute bits of litter that he sees lying around.


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