Synopses & Reviews
A bestselling author and award winning journalist follows a year in the life of a big urban hospital, painting a revealing portrait of how medical care is delivered in America today
Most people agree that there are complicated issues at play in the delivery of health care today, but those issues may not always be what we think they are. In 2005, Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, unveiled a new state-of-theart, multimillion-dollar cancer center. Determined to understand the whole spectrum of factors that determine what kind of medical care people receive in this country, bestselling author Julie Salamon spent one year tracking the progress of the center and getting to know the characters who make the hospital run. Located in a community where sixty-seven different languages are spoken, Maimonides is a case study for the particular kinds of concerns that arise in institutions that serve an increasingly multicultural American demographic. Granted an astonishing warts and all level of access by the hospital higher-ups, Salamon followed the doctors, patients, administrators, nurses, ambulance drivers, cooks, and cleaning staff. She explored not just the action on the groundwhat happens between doctors and patientsbut also the financial, ethical, technological, sociological, and cultural matters that the hospital community encounters every day.
Drawing on her skills as interviewer, observer, and social critic, Salamon presents the story of modern medicine, uniquely viewed from the vantage point of those who make it run. She draws out the internal and external political machinations that exist between doctors and staff as well as between hospital and community. And she grounds the science and emotion of medical drama in the financial realities of operating a huge, private institution that must contend with issues like adapting to the specific needs of immigrant groups that make up a large and growing portion of our society.
Salamon exposes struggles of both the profound and humdrum variety. There are bitter internal feuds, warm personal connections, comedy, egoism, greed, love, and loss. There are rabbinic edicts to contend with as well as imams and herbalists and local politicians. There are system foul-ups that keep blood test results from being delivered on time, careless record keepers, shortages of everything except forms to fill, recalcitrant and greedy insurance reimbursement systems, and the surprising difficulty of getting doctors to wash their hands.
This is the dynamic universe of small and large concerns and personalities that, taken together, determine the nature of our care and assume the utmost importance. As Martin Paysonchairman of the board at Maimonides and ex-Time-Warner vice chairmanputs it: Hospitals have a lot in common with the movie business. Youve got your talent, entrepreneurs, ambition, ego stroking, the business versus the creative part. The big difference is that in the hospital you dont get second takes. Movies are make-believe. This is real life.
"In this remarkable portrait of the doctors and administrators at Brooklyn's Maimonides Medical Center, bestselling author Salamon (The Devil's Candy; The Christmas Tree) illustrates the complex machine that is the modern hospital, vying to provide cutting-edge facilities and compassionate care, while making money doing it. Salamon compares Maimonides to a factory, where medicine is 'industrialized,' streamlined for efficiency and as dependent on skilled administrators as on talented physicians. Located in a Brooklyn neighborhood known for its simmering mix of ethnicities and cultures, particularly its influential ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, Maimonides is insanely busy, with perhaps the most densely packed emergency room of its size. A new resident in obstetrics learns to 'count to ten and say 'push' in Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian, and at least two other languages that I'm not sure what they were.' Administrators juggle budgets, politics and feuding staff while insurance paperwork increases mistakes and steals treatment time. Although it's 'hard to deconstruct the Tower of Babel when you're standing in the middle of it,' Salamon succeeds in providing a completely unique, three-dimensional and compellingly human perspective of the demanding work both frustrating and rewarding that is not always apparent to hospital patients and their families." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
[A] remarkable portrait
Salamon succeeds in providing a completely unique, three-dimensional and compellingly human perspective of the demanding workboth frustrating and rewarding that is not always apparent to hospital patients and their families.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
The fine grain of Ms Salamons observations allows her to paint a compelling and damningportrait of a dysfunctional health-care system
Its careful documentation of financial crises, feuds, personality clashes and, most of all, life-and-death drama it feeds the same appetite for pathos, intrigue, tragedy and redemption
as the current plethora of medical programs.
Ive never had much interest in hospitals (or been able to sit through an episode of ER), but as Salamon expertly sucked me into the saga of Maimonides, I realized this was about more than white coats, scalpels and beeping consoles. This place was 21st century America in a microcosm.
Laura Miller, Salon (lead review)
" A first-rate book . . . [Hospital
] reads like a novel, elicits equal parts dismay and awe, yet never wavers from truth telling."
-Dan Cryer, Newsday
" Immensely heartening. . . . If there's hope for our overburdened health care system, Hospital suggests we can thank the decent, thoughtful men and women laboring overtime to improve the quality of life-and death-in our gloriously lumpy American melting pot."
-O, The Oprah Magazine
A bestselling author and award-winning journalist follows a year in the life of a big urban hospital, painting a revealing portrait of how medical care is delivered in America today.
Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God, and Diversity on Steroids
A warts-and-all exploration of the struggles suffered and triumphs achieved by America's health-care professionals, Hospital follows a year in the life of Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, which serves a diverse multicultural demographic. Unraveling the financial, ethical, technological, sociological, and cultural challenges encountered every day, bestselling author Julie Salamon tracks the individuals who make this complex hospital run-from doctors, patients, and administrators to nurses, ambulance drivers, cooks, and cleaners. Drawing on her skills as an award-winning interviewer, observer, and social critic, Salamon reveals the dynamic universe of small and large concerns and personalities that, taken together, determine the nature of care in America.
About the Author
Julie Salamon is the author of six books, including The Devils Candy, considered a Hollywood classic about filmmaking gone awry, and The Christmas Tree, a New York Times bestseller. Her other books are the nonfiction, true crime book Facing the Wind, the novel White Lies, a family memoir, The Net of Dreams, and Rambams Ladder for which she won the 2005 Ohioana book award. Salamon was a culture writer for The New York Times and a critic and reporter for The Wall Street Journal. In 20062007 she was a Kaiser Media Fellow. Her journalism has appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Bazaar, and The New Republic.