BIRTH. DEATH. INFINITY. The words were intoned at the opening of each episode of "Ben Casey," one of America's earliest medical TV dramas, set in the fictional County General Hospital from 1961 to 1966. A real-life hospital, born when two nuns founded it in 1865, died in 2002 when St. Francis Hospital closed its doors in Lawrenceville. The legal fallout wasn't resolved until earlier this month, when Common Pleas Judge Frank Lucchino formally terminated the hospital's receivership. It took seven years to handle all of the complicated issues, including ensuring pension benefits were properly disbursed, settling lawsuits and paying off creditors. The life cycle of the land on Penn Avenue is complete now, with the new Children's Hospital in operation on the site.
NEW LIFE COULD BE in store for a building that is among Pittsburgh's oldest. The Old Stone Tavern in the city's West End is a former Indian trading post that dates to the 1700s. The city planning commission last week approved historic status for the building, a decision member Paul Dick described as "a no-brainer." City Council should waste no time in putting its stamp on this decision, too. Then preservationists can begin working to raise money for its restoration and preservation.
PRESERVATION of threatened species is a key mission of the world's zoos, and the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has reason to celebrate its latest contribution. A female sea lion born June 13 was a first in the facility's 111-year history, an event zookeepers greeted with caution. That's because the mortality rate for sea lion pups is 10 to 15 percent during the first month of life. The pup, who weighed 11 pounds and was just over 2 feet long at birth, is doing well because she is bonding with her mother, Zoey, a key to survival. Zoos use breeding programs with genetic diversity to keep the cycle of birth and death going, with any luck, to infinity.