From Huffington Post:
People ran to the church for refuge in Medieval times. It was considered a place of safety, a sanctuary from civil punishment. In the church, one could claim a right to justice, food, water and shelter. That role was recognized by church and government authorities alike; doubtless sometimes grudgingly as the wanted escaped harsh punishments.
These days, America’s emergency rooms have filled a similar role. I’m reminded of this because the holidays are here. For the next six weeks or so, my colleague around the country will be inundated by patients in their already packed emergency departments, whether local community hospitals or major teaching and trauma centers.