Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine Paperback – April 2, 2013
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
PRAISE FOR GOD'S HOTEL
“Transcendent… readable chapters go down like restorative sips of cool water, and its hard-core subversion cheers like a shot of gin… God’s Hotel [is] a tour de force… Others have written about the relationship between time and medical care with similar eloquence and urgency, but the centuries of perspective that Dr. Sweet brings infuse the point with unforgettable clarity.” –The New York Times
“A radical and inspiring alternative vision of caring for the sick.” –Vanity Fair
“Engaging… You might not expect a book about San Francisco's most downtrodden patients to be a page-turner, but it is. With its colorful cast of characters battling the tide of history, God's Hotel is a remarkable journey into the essence of medicine.” –San Francisco Chronicle
"Victoria Sweet writes beautifully about the enormous richness of life at Laguna Honda, the chronic [care] hospital where she has spent the last twenty years, and the intense sense of place and community that binds patients and staff there. Such community in the medical world is vanishingly rare now, and Laguna Honda may be the last of its kind… God's Hotel is a most important book which raises fundamental questions about the nature of medicine in our time. It should be required reading for anyone interested in the 'business' of healthcare – and especially those interested in the humanity of healthcare." –Oliver Sacks, M.D. author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and The Mind's Eye
“Victoria Sweet has written the best non-fiction book I've read this year… The qualities that make her a great doctor are the same qualities that make her book so powerful, original and relevant… For a very long time, a gang of renegades got away with practicing medicine the way it should be: sitting with patients, watching, listening, often doing nothing more than being present. And then Victoria Sweet, a candidate for sainthood, wrote a book that is a beacon in the darkness.” –Jesse Kornbluth, Huffington Post
“A beautifully written and illuminating book… [Sweet’s] metaphors are poetic and hint at the mystical, but then she pulls back with the educated eye of a scientist… For both the agnostic and the believer, Sweet pinpoints the element of medicine that makes it a calling rather than a job: the unique and sustaining love that is sparked between a doctor and patient.” –Jerome Groopman, The New York Review of Books
"Remarkable… [Sweet] would appreciate that it took time for me to journey to and through her work since that may be one of the many compelling messages she so eloquently, yet simply by storytelling, conveys… permitting ‘tincture of time’ to also do its job." –The Huffington Post
“Sweet writes fluidly and well… She weaves a fascinating account of the historical forces that transformed our view of the body… It's high time that someone gets medieval on modern medicine's morass, and Victoria Sweet is just the woman to do it.” –Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Captivating… with this humane and thoughtful work, Sweet joins physician-authors such as Oliver Sacks, Jerome Groopman and Abraham Verghese.” –The Dallas Morning News
“Sweet’s tone in God’s Hotel nicely matches her subject. Her writing has a lovely, antique quality… This hospital, with its chronically ill patients, crumbling buildings, and never-ending budget woes, was 'a gift.' In this beautiful and unique book, she shares that gift with us generously.” –The Boston Globe
"Intelligent and moving… In this often lyrical book, Dr. Sweet reveals a deep spirituality and unsentimental compassion." –Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Sweet paints a dynamic portrait… [which] is at its core testimonial to the body’s remarkable ability to heal when it is provided with the simple ingredients of time and care." –Utne Reader
“Visionary… thoroughly subversive in all the best ways… Sweet proposes ways that we might reimagine our way forward by looking into the distant past… This book’s lessons and conclusions should challenge doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, and policy makers to stop and rethink their core beliefs.” –Journal of Health Affairs
"Containing no medical jargon… nothing too gory or gut-wrenching; just descriptive stories of patients, unusual treatments, a hospital in transition, and a doctor on a journey, learning to practice 'a beautiful art.'" –East Bay Express
"By braiding… historical searches with her time at Laguna Honda, [Sweet] arrives at a compelling critique of modernized health care and a vision for transforming it." –Books & Culture
“[Our] healthcare system might function a lot better if every single American citizen, healthcare professional, politician and legislator would read Victoria Sweet’s insightful, beautifully written and moving book.” –Bookpage
About the Author
Victoria Sweet has been a physician at San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital for more than twenty years. An associate clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, she is also a prize-winning historian with a Ph.D. in history and social medicine.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
On a recent trip to San Francisco, sitting at the Forest Park bus station, I gazed across the street and asked my friend what kind of hospital is Laguna Honda, that pinkish Spanish looking hacienda style building across the street. Oh, my friend said, my friend "Barbara", was a nurse and retired from there....and I am told there is actually a book written about the hospital. Later in my visit I met Barbara and listened to her story, which in turn led to me downloading "God's Hotel". Having worked in Medicine in my career, possessing an interest in the meditative qualities of medieval music, and somewhat of a "pilgrim" in my approach to life I was quickly engaged with the book's story all the way to the end.
"God's Hotel" is written by Victoria Sweet who we meet at the beginning of the book, a new MD clinician at the beginning of her career in medicine. She is drawn to work at Laguna Honda because of it's unusual status as one of the last free public hospitals for the chronically ill poor, a medieval alms house, in the world. It is patterned on the Hotel Dieu in Paris. However, practically it allowed Dr. Sweet to pursue a Ph.D in the History of Medicine by only requiring her to work in the Admitting Ward part-time. At the hospital she quickly becomes very engaged in caring for patients because the hospital's operating method allowed both physicians and nurses a great deal of freedom to pursue their healing art and science. At the same time, she finds a mentor for her Ph.D studies in pre-modern medicine with a doctor whose office is in one of the almost forgotten tower rooms.
In the early chapters, "God's Hotel" juxtaposes Sweets increasing knowledge of pre-modern medicine through the study of the Benedictine Nun, Hildegard von Bingen and her treatment of patients. You, the reader may be familiar with her music! These first chapters lay out this medieval nun's understanding of the human body and what determines health and illness. Sweet frequently finds opportunities to examine her patients, understand their illness, and by applying Hildegard von Bingen's insights in pre-modern medicine.
Lest you, the prospective reader of this book leap to the conclusion this is yet another book on homepathy, quack remedies, and the danger of vaccinations - it is not that.
The main story in the book is the tension between Laguna Honda, as an Alms House, and it's progressive encounter with the pressures for modern, efficient health care delivery driven by insurers and hospital administrations. Sweet walks us through this encounter in a very personal way through the lives of her patients and her journey as a physician. Later in the book, she actually makes her thought and belief pilgrimage real by walking over fours years the famous St. Jean de Compostela pilgrimage route in France and Spain.
If you work or study medicine, enjoy medieval music, and consider yourself a "pilgrim" in life......this book is for you.
I understand that physicians have little power to change the direction that health care is heading, but she didn't seem to make any effort at all. Instead she spends years on earning a PhD in medieval medicine including Latin (along with lots of references to roots of words and language differences), and going on a yearly `pilgrimage` in Europe (meanwhile being a doctor part-time). She tries to make the point that ancient medical practices (be more alert to body functions than relying just on expensive test results) have value to a modern physician and cites a few cases where it helped her with diagnosis. Maybe so, but I suspect she is smart enough and compassionate enough and thorough enough that she could have gotten just as far without that knowledge, seems like common sense. It seems to me that she could have done a whole lot more for her patients by spending more time with the patients(rather than working on PhD). The cases that she cites in the book are very interesting, she could have had many more interesting tales to tell, and I would have enjoyed the book much more.
I enjoyed most of book, but since I am not a physician I found the medieval medicine and Latin references tedious and uninteresting. The references to her pilgrimages were kept short but I don't see a relevance to the hospital. I guess that the purpose of writing the book was to show how thinking `out of the box' and slowing the diagnoses time can save lives. I suppose that it is possible that she saved a few lives because of her exposure to a time when medical knowledge was limited and the physician was forced to work with nature. Maybe in her next book we will read how she improved health care or will improve health care for the future, taking into account the disastrous financial problems that are growing daily.