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County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago's Public Hospital Hardcover – May 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press; 1st edition (May 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0897336208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0897336208
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Chicago Tribune, July 20, 2011

 " "County" is a landmark book, brave and angry and indispensable" .... Julia Keller, Cultural Critic

"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 expose will shock and motivate readers to take a stand on the issue-" Publisher's Weekly

"..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-" New York Times

"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, make this work stand out-" Library Journal

The Wall Street Journal
, December 20, 2011

Laura Landro, Healing Reads (one of) " The Year's Five Best Books
"

"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


"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

Book Description

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.

More About the Author

David Ansell is a Chicago based physician and health activist. He has been an internal medicine physician since training at Cook County Hospital in the late 1970s where he spent seventeen years holding a number of positions including Chief of General Medicine/Primary Care. After leaving County, he spent ten years as Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital located in one of the poorest communities in Chicago. Now, Chief Medical Officer at Rush University Medical Center,he also sees patients and teaches. Since coming to Chicago to train at Cook County Hospital, Dr.Ansell has dedicated his career to fighting health inequity by building programs to address and eliminate these disparities. His work with others has led to the end of "patient dumping" in the US, one of the first cancer screening programs in the US aimed at addressing the Black:White breast cancer mortality disparity, the creation of the most prominent health disparity research and intervention center in Chicago and the creation of the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Taskforce, a not-for-profit dedicated to the elimination of breast cancer mortality disparity. In his spare time he reads, gardens and exercises. He volunteers as a doctor at a Chicago free clinic and has participated in ongoing medical missions to the Dominican Republic and Haiti. He is married to a doctor and has two children. "County" is his first book.

Customer Reviews

The story of Dr. Ansell's time at Cook County is absolutely intense.
Jpchunk
Dr. Ansell had the courage to tell his story and by doing so, continue to challenge the status quo of our health care system.
Prof
Anyone who is entering medicine or a health care profession needs to read this book.
Turbo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Barnard on June 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
READ David Ansell's new book, "County"! It is a memoir of his many years at Cook County, full of portraits of patients, staff, and politicians. For Chicagoans, it has a special resonance, as every page is fully of names we know and events we remember. The photo section is priceless and vivid. It is a gripping story - I couldn't put it down - it is very thoughtful, timely, insightful, moving. It asks the great questions about a society's responsibility to its members for decent, competent healthcare, and how best to build a system capable of delivering that care.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Pam Strauss, on June 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I was fortunate to be able to read a galley copy of County which I have since been enthusiastically recommending to everyone I know. The book is immediately engaging, a true page turner; more than once I was so thoroughly engrossed that I nearly missed my train stop. It is both the inspiring story of an individual physician's professional journey as well as the sad story of the broken health care system in the city of Chicago and the United States. Every chapter provides evidence of Dr. Ansell's unwavering commitment to providing health care for the under-served and to addressing the racial and economic disparity rampant throughout our health care system. Where other activists from the 60s and 70s might be accused of "selling out" Dr. Ansell never loses his deeply authentic concern for the health of the under-served and his tireless energy for doing whatever it takes to fix the problems he sees. Woven throughout the book are the deeply moving personal stories of his patients and his relationships with them; the story of his long relationship with his patient with sickle cell anemia left me with tears rolling down my cheeks. This book is a must read for everyone from health care practitioners, to health care activists, to patients, to all citizens of the United States where unfortunately health care remains a privilege and not a right.
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62 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Anne Klosinski on August 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
When I read Dr. David Ansell's book ,County, Life ,Death and Politics at Chicago's Public Hospital, I wondered if
the county hospital he studied and worked at for 17 years was the same place I studied and worked at for 40 years.
He accurately describes a facility that was decrepit ,poorly equipped, with no air conditioning in sweltering wards,
overcrowded with the county's poorest and sickest; I never saw the rats and roaches.He repeatedly discredits the
medical and nursing staff , the heart and soul of the hospital .Could he not have presented a more balanced
portrayal of the County Hospital and still have made his case for a single payer health care system?

I graduated from Cook County School of Nursing in 1963. I am President of the Board of Directors of the Alumni
Association of Cook County School of Nursing.I worked at the hospital from 1972-2008, 32 of those years as a
Nurse Practitioner on both surgical and medical services . My duties took me to every ward, clinic,department and
nook and cranny of the complex. I worked along side intelligent, dedicated, caring nurses and doctors, not the lazy,
absentee attendings or the" jaded, uncaring, incompetent" nurses Ansell recalls. He apparently never encountered
any of the dedicated, overworked nurses, who so often clued in cocky,arrogant and "clueless" interns.

I am offended by his general disregard for nurses throughout his book as well as his disparaging remarks about the
senior medical staff. I find it hard to believe that after 17 years Ansell could only single out one Nurse Practitioner in
the clinic who misdiagnosed a patient (describing her as an evil-eyed ,bleached and lacquered blond ) and another
nurse as "packed" into a "too-tight" uniform.
Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Woodburner on August 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a fine read for anyone curious about or troubled by health care delivery experienced by those who are marginalized in our society. County carefully documents the experience of Ansell, who chose to serve and grow professionally in the war zone of abject poverty and institutionalized bureaucratic disdain. His volume speaks for the patients as well as the professionals who struggle and strive to serve them.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jade Dell on June 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
David Ansell brings to life the story of the "Old Lady on Harrison Street." He writes with candor and the perspective of hind sight to weave a tale that only an insider could tell. Known as "The County" to masses of uninsured, immigrant, poor and marginalized folk, this public hospital has been the only "medical home" for generations of Chicagoans who have shown up at its doors because no other hospital would take them.

Ansell chronicles his 17 years at County as an intern, a resident and an attending physician and when you finish reading this book, you have a better understanding of why deep disparities in health exist even now among racial groups here in Chicago. County facilities and equipment were substandard; supplies were scarce; Chicago patronage jobs were sometimes given to employees who were untrained and uncaring; and, shockingly, interns and residents were not properly supervised by the attending physicians and were left to teach each other the rigors of practicing medicine in this medical "ground zero" as Ansell calls it. Add to these horrors the ever-present threat that County could close due to funding issues and infighting between the mostly White Cook County Board and the mostly Black Governing Commission, and you have a situation of overwhelming gravity.

In the face of this chaos, Ansell and other doctors and nurses committed to providing good health care for County patients fought for an attending physicians' union, treated patients with HIV/AIDS in the early days of the epidemic, rallied at Daley Plaza to "Keep County Open," and generally practiced the best medicine they could in the middle of a racist and classist health care system.

As one finishes reading this engaging book it is even clearer that unless this country embraces a single-payer health system, the medical abuses of some in our community will continue unabated.
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