Trade piano playing for health care? You can at Woodhull Hospital


A few weeks ago, WalletPop introduced you to a hospital where artists are invited to trade their talents for health care.

Staff at Woodhull Medical Center in Brooklyn noticed that the neighborhood it served was home to a community of underinsured artists, and in 2005, it began the Artist Access program.

Once participants are verified as low-income, they're invited to trade their talents. Dancers might instruct hospital staff in yoga. Visual artists might assist patients with art therapy. The program is built on the back of existing facilities for people who would otherwise slip through the ever-widening cracks of our crumbling American health care system.

Nevada Republican Sue Lowder recently received jeers for making a public suggestion that we should barter chickens for health care, but there are solid roots for the practice, albeit in a less civilized, pre-industrial America. I discovered on a recent trip to Mount Vernon that George Washington himself bartered with his family doctor for health care. If you think trading piano playing for check-ups is odd, I cannot tell a lie: good old G.W. traded whiskey for his doctor's services.

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