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Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God and Diversity on Steroids Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 15, 2008

41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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. (May 19)
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“[A] remarkable portrait… 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)

“The fine grain of Ms Salamon’s observations allows her to paint a compelling— and damning—portrait 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.”

“I’ve 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)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The; 1 edition (May 15, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1594201714
  • ASIN: B001LF4ATA
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,505,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By M. Warshawsky on May 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ok so maybe I am a little biased because I actually work at the hospital where this book was conceived and written.
Seriously though, Ms. Salamon has has manged somehow to give an overview of Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn that is both accurate and wonderfully descriptive. She has succesfully captured the flavour of Brooklyn and Maimonides in an entertaining yet authentic way.
This is not one of those PR stunts to try make Maimonides famous and rich, rather it is a soul searching account of the most horrendous and uplifting experiences that go hand in hand when an urban hospital meets multiple cultures.

At the end of the day it is a book about human emotions and human deficiencies.
Ego and humility, arrogance and compassion mixed with a healthy dose of back stabbing and genuine love for humanity.

Highly recomended.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A. Harmon on May 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
That Maimonides Medical Center granted this writer such unfettered access to the institution is indeed astonishing, and Salamon does not squander the opportunity. What she finds is a health care pressure cooker: Ludicrous insurance protocols, cultural divides among patients and an exhausted staff prone to ego and petty feuds, and sometimes profound compassion.

But General Hospital melodrama the book is not. What I found instead was an illuminating portrayal of our broken health care system, without the gross oversimplification that presidential political campaigns are apt to use in endless sound bytes.

Salamon's prose is at its best when she documents the experience of Maimonides cancer patients--real people in pain, often lacking insurance and citizenship, praying for miracles and avoiding the awful truth as best they can. Salamon thankfully avoids turning these tragic stories into overwrought narrative thread. Her voice is simple and frank, and therefore irresistible. A powerful work.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By C. B. Terrigno on May 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book for my children to give to their father on Father's Day. He trained at Maimonides when we were newlyweds and I thought he would enjoy receiving it from his sons who were born there in Brooklyn.
I began to glance through it and I was compelled to cancel my appointments and read it completely. Wow, the memories came flooding back to me.
In the early and mid eighties, we spent a great deal of time interacting with a group of people who were foreign to me in both physical and spiritual identity. The Orthodox Jewish community provides an integral part of her story and it is fascinating.
Like the author, I am from Ohio. But, unlike Ms Salamon, I had no idea who Maimonides was and why would he have a hospital in Brooklyn named for him? It was a life-altering experience for me to learn the differences between various New York cultures and and this is the insight Ms Salamon provides throughout this book.
The reader becomes enthralled with the personalities of the physicians, administrators and staff and Ms Salamon is concise and accurate in recalling events that establish their identities. However, it is the wrenching descriptions of actual procedures as well as the reactions of young and terminally ill patients that keeps this book from becoming another hospital tell-all.
I am very impressed with this book and I greatly anticipate reading her earlier books and essays.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. Byrd on May 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Usually when I hear someone mention health care, my eyes tend to glaze over. It's an issue that affects us all, but it's not always an interesting one. This book changed my mind about that. It offers a glimpse into the human side of health care by portraying an array of doctors, nurses, patients, administrators, and community leaders. Salamon thoroughly explains the interactions and conflicting interests of each group. She shines light on the things that are broken about health care in America and also reveals what is succeeding. Not only do I feel that I learned a great deal from reading this book, but I also found it quite entertaining. The rivalries, culture clashes, and money woes made for a satisfying read.

If you've ever been to a hospital, it would be worth your time to read Hospital.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Oddleifson on June 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a fabulous book. It is easy to forget that it is not fiction; the characters and the situation and setting are fascinating and their depth and complexities so well portrayed. The story itself is at once inspiring, depressing, hopeful and overwhelming. Maimonides Hospital is unique, but really this book is about every medical practice. Over and over again I felt an odd sense that this was about my practice in a small Maine town... a practice that is homogenous in every way that is easily described in demographics, but as diverse as every face and family and experience. Ms. Salamon gets it exactly right: that health care is emotional and spiritual and about human dynamics, both beautiful and ugly. Her writing of the Maimonides story so perfectly shows how nothing is simple in health care and yet it really is all very simple. Because this book truly is about humankind and our survival together, it is certainly a great read for anyone, not just readers in the medical field. (But a must read for everyone in the medical field!) (Jennifer Oddleifson)
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