Synopses & Reviews
No One Was Turned Away
is a book about the importance of public hospitals to New York City. At a time when less and less value seems to be placed on public institutions, argues author Sandra Opdycke, it is both useful and prudent to consider what this particular set of public institutions has meant to this particular city over the last hundred years, and to ponder what its loss might mean as well. Opdycke suggests that if these public hospitals close or convert to private management--as is currently being discussed--then a vital element of the civic life of New York City will be irretrievably lost.
The story is told primarily through the history of Bellevue Hospital, the largest public hospital in the city and the oldest in the nation. Following Bellevue through the twentieth century, Opdycke meticulously charts the fluctuating fortunes of the city's public hospital system. Readers will learn how medical technology, urban politics, changing immigration patterns, economic booms and busts, labor unions, health insurance, Medicaid, and managed care have interacted to shape both the social and professional environments of New York's public hospitals. Having entered the twentieth century with high hopes for a grand expansion, Bellevue now faces financial and political pressures so acute that its very future is in doubt.
In order to give context to the Bellevue experience, Opdycke also tracks the history of a private facility over the same century: New York Hospital. By noting the points at which the paths of these two mighty institutions have overlapped--as well as the ways in which they have diverged--this book clearly and persuasively highlights the significance of public hospitals to the city. No One Was Turned Away shows that private facilities like New York Hospital have generally provided superb care for their patients, but that in every era they have also excluded certain groups. This exclusion has occurred for various reasons, such as patients' diagnoses, their social characteristics, behavior, or financial status--or simply because of a lack of unoccupied beds. Fortunately, however, year in and year out, Bellevue and its fellow public facilities have acted as the city's medical safety net.
Opdycke's book maintains that public hospitals will be as essential in the future as they have been in the past. This is a thoughtful and well-written study that will appeal to anyone interested in the history of medicine, public policy, urban affairs, or the City of New York.
"The twentieth-century transformation of urban hospitals, from small-size and small-budget institutions to huge complexes with thousands of employees, multiple buildings, and billion-dollar budgets, is a story that few people have understood and that fewer still have studied. Comparing two world-famous medical centers--one public, one private--Sandra Opdycke demonstrates with grace and elegance why a taxpayer-funded municipal system is the best way to meet the health care needs of the nation's neediest citizens."--Kenneth T. Jackson, Columbia University, Editor-in-Chief of The Encyclopedia of New York City
"Public hospitals have long played an essential, integral role in American society. Visible, responsive to public pressures, and, above all, inclusive, these hospitals are perhaps nowhere so visible as in New York City. They are brilliantly portrayed in Sandra Opdycke's fascinating book, which will be of interest to historians and policy-makers alike."--Joel D. Howell, University of Michigan
"Sandra Opdycke's book combines urban history, social history, and the history of medicine in exemplary fashion. By comparing two notable hospitals, Bellevue and New York Hospital, she shows readers all that a public system could provide for its citizens. At a time when public hospitals are under attack, her history offers critical guidelines for policy."--David J. Rothman, Columbia University
"This is a dramatic, impeccably researched, and well-told story of two important American hospitals, Bellevue and New York Hospital, as their sponsors negotiated the hospitals' roles through decades of change. Focusing on the two great traditions of urban hospital care represented in these institutions, one public and one private, this book is a major contribution to the history of American hospitals, urban history in general, and in particular to the social and political history of New York City."--Rosemary Stevens, University of Pennsylvania
"This book examines hospital development in New York City, and by doing so it serves as a microcosm for understanding hospital development nationwide." --The Unionist
For more than a century, New York City's public hospitals have played a major role in ensuring that people of every class have had a place to turn for care. This comparison of the history of Bellevue Hospital with that of the private New York Hospital illuminates the unique contribution that public hospitals have made to the city and confirms their continued value today. Portraying the hospital as an urban institution that reflects the social, political, economic, demographic, and physical changes of the surrounding city, this book links the role of public hospitals to the ongoing debate about the place of public institutions in American society.
About the Author
is Adjunct Visiting Professor in the Department of Urban Studies at Vassar College and Associate Director of the Institution in Social Policy at Fordham University.
Table of Contents
1. New Century, New Start: 1900-1910
2. Maintaining the Mission: 1910-1930
3. Help in Time of Trouble: 1930-1950
4. Many Voices, Many Claims: 1950-1965
5. The Limits of Reform: 1965-1970
6. Holding the Fort: After 1970