This Is Us

We Do Not Deserve Hospitals

My radical vision for the future does not include the violence that occurs within a hospital’s walls — or the hospital at all

Marquisele Mercedes
Human Parts
Published in
7 min readOct 15, 2020


Medical equipment on the background of group of health workers in the ICU.
Photo: sudok1/Getty Images

On a night in my early teens, I went to the Pediatric Emergency Department at Montefiore’s Children’s Hospital for intense cramps. I was expecting my period in a few days but had never felt that way before — like a heat lamp was burning into the meat of my pelvis.

My mother and I spent the better part of nine hours in a tiny room with speckled vinyl floors and too-bright fluorescent lights. At one point, I was sent to another room nearby that was a little larger and had no extra chairs. My mother was told to stand outside the room and wait because the doctor would be asking me about matters that required privacy. A nurse told me to undress from the waist down and wait for the doctor.

My doctor came in and asked me — in a few different ways — if I’d ever been “penetrated.” I had not and said so — repeatedly. She referenced the development of my body, implied the crudeness of the boys around me. It was an unsaid question, but one that still required an answer. “No,” I said. “I’ve never put anything in there.” She said, “If you say so,” before telling me to lay down, scoot my butt toward the end of…