Synopses & Reviews
"Named by the "Wall Street Journal "as one of the five best health books of 2011!
County" is the amazing tale of one of America's oldest and most unusual urban public hospitals. From its inception as a "poor house" dispensing free medical care to indigents, Chicago's Cook County Hospital has been both a renowned teaching hospital and the health care provider of last resort for the city's uninsured. "County" covers more than thirty years of its history, beginning in the late 1970s when the author began his internship, to the "final rounds" in 2002, when hundreds of former trainees and personnel, many of whom shared Ansell's vision of resurrecting a hospital in critical condition, gathered to bid the iconic Victorian hospital building an emotional farewell before it was closed to make way for a new facility."County" is about people--from Ansell's mentors, including the legendary Quentin Young, to the multitude of patients whom he and County's medical staff labored to diagnose and heal. It is a story about politics; from contentious union strikes, to battles against "patient dumping." Most importantly, it chronicles the battles for instigating new programs that would help to prevent, rather than just treat, serious illnesses, including the opening of County's HIV/AIDS clinic (the first in the city), as well as an early-detection breast cancer screening program. Finally, it is about an idealistic young man's medical education in urban America, a coming-of-age story set against a backdrop of race, segregation, and poverty.
"Ansell's dramatic account of the 17 years he spent at Chicago's 160-year-old public Cook County Hospital (now John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital), rising from intern to chief of the General Internal Medicine and Primary Care Division, presents chilling proof of the indignities, interminable lines, inexcusable delays, inferior facilities, and incomplete care received by uninsured, mostly African-American patients. At County ('a petri dish for vermin'), where clerks ruled the mostly open wards and unsupervised interns learned by trial and error on a 'battlefield of medicine,' he and his colleagues fought against party politics for funds to keep County open and establish pioneering services (e.g., breast cancer screening, HIV/AIDs care). With the nation's focus on a national health-care policy providing quality medical services to citizens regardless of race, ethnicity, and income level, Ansell's exposÃ© will shock and motivate readers to take a stand on the issue. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"...the many ways in which poor patients were mistreated and devalued on its premises are the true subject of this book — a valuable addition to the historical record of Cook County and its problem-ridden health care system. Ansell takes readers behind the scenes for a look at deplorable conditions."
"… when it comes to the stories of his patients, many of whom he cared for over decades, from clinic to hospital to funeral, Dr. Ansell soars. These sketches are, to be sure, the standard-issue material of a good doctor trying to do right by a set of immensely beleaguered fellow citizens. But unlike fairy tales, we cannot have too many of these stories in circulation, to bear witness, to inform and to inspire." -- Abigail Zuger, M.D., The New York Times
"On one level, Ansell's book is the coming-of-age story of a young, idealistic physician from the East Coast encountering racism and bare-knuckle politics in Chicago as he learns the basics of his demanding profession. With unusual honesty, Ansell, now the chief medical officer at Rush University Medical Center, recounts several medical mistakes that badly injured patients or cost their lives — a result of his inexperience and challenging conditions at the old Cook County Hospital." -- Judith Graham, Chicago Tribune
"…'County' is a landmark book, brave and angry and indispensable, not least because Ansell dares to declare that the health reform legislation passed in 2010 — dubbed 'Obamacare' — was no breakthrough. It 'preserved the caste system of health care in America, one that all but guarantees different health outcomes depending on the patient's health insurance status.' " -- Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
"Ansell (chief medical officer, Rush Univ. Medical Ctr.) spent his medical residency and much of his early professional career at Cook County Hospital, historically Chicago's public hospital for low-income and uninsured patients. He weaves strands of memoir and policy analysis into a heartfelt account of the hospital's challenges, failures, and successes over three decades, from the Civil Rights Movement to the AIDS crisis, in the process educating and moving the reader to both anger and compassion. His gift for describing the connections between social forces and medical care, coupled with the vivid patient stories interspersed with trenchant critiques of the politics of health care, makes this work stand out.
Verdict: Ansell skillfully humanizes questions of health-care policy by describing real-life scenarios. Those who enjoyed such books as Richard Selzer's Letters to a Young Doctor will find this book an education for both the mind and the heart." -- A.W. Klink, Duke Univ., NC
"Ansell skillfully humanizes questions of health-care policy by describing real-life scenarios... his gift for making the connections between social forces and medical care, coupled with the vivid patient stories interspersed with trenchant critiques of the politics of health care, makes this work stand out." — Library Journal
"County is a landmark book, brave, angry and indispensable not least because Ansell declared... Obamacare was no breakthrough." — Chicago Tribune
"When it comes to the stories of his patients, many of whom he cared for over decades from clinic to hospital to funeral, Ansell soars." — New York Times
"With the nation's focus on a national health-care policy providing quality medical services to citizens regardless of race, ethnicity, and income level, Ansell's exposé will shock and motivate readers to take a stand on the issue." — Publishers Weekly
The amazing tale of County” is the story of one of Americas oldest and most unusual urban hospitals. From its inception as a poor house” dispensing free medical care to indigents, Chicagos Cook County Hospital has been renowned as a teaching hospital and the healthcare provider of last resort for the citys uninsured. Ansell covers more than thirty years of its history, beginning in the late 1970s when the author began his internship, to the Final Rounds” when the enormous iconic Victorian hospital building was replaced. Ansell writes of the hundreds of doctors who underwent rigorous training with him. He writes of politics, from contentious union strikes to battles against patient dumping,” and public health, depicting the AIDS crisis and the Out of Printening of Countys HIV/AIDS clinic, the first in the city. And finally it is a coming-of-age story for a young doctor set against a backdrOut of Print of race, segregation, and poverty. This is a riveting account.
About the Author
DAVID A. ANSELL, M.D., MPH is the vice president of Clinical Affairs and chief medical officer at Rush University. He lives in Oak Park with his wife of thirty-six years, Dr. Paula Grabler, who also trained at Cook County Hospital. They have two grown children. During his scarce leisure time, he enjoys reading, exercising and gardening.
For more info on the author and event listings visit: www.countythebook.com