- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Riverhead Books; 1 edition (April 26, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594488436
- ISBN-13: 978-1594488436
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 434 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#392,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #21 in Books > Textbooks > Medicine & Health Sciences > Medicine > Special Topics > Essays
- #114 in Books > Textbooks > Medicine & Health Sciences > Administration & Policy > Health Policy
- #147 in Books > Textbooks > Medicine & Health Sciences > Administration & Policy > Hospital Administration & Care
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God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine 1st Edition
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A Barnes & Noble and San Francisco Chronicle Best Nonfiction Book of 2012
“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
“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's warm, anecdotal style shines… The author's compelling argument for Laguna Honda's philosophy of 'slow medicine' will make readers contemplate if perhaps the body should be viewed more as a garden to be tended rather than a machine to be fixed." –Kirkus (reviewed as a Best Book of 2012)
“Captivating… with this humane and thoughtful work, Sweet joins physician-authors such as Oliver Sacks, Jerome Groopman and Abraham Verghese.” –The Dallas Morning News
“[A] watershed book ...Vital, exquisitely written, and spectacularly multidimensional, Sweet’s clinically exacting, psychologically discerning, practical, spiritual, and tenderly funny anecdotal chronicle steers the politicized debate over health care back to medicine and compassion. –Booklist (starred review)
“Visionary… thoroughly subversive in all the best ways… 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
“A remarkable, poignant portrait of a committed physician on a quest to understand the heart, as well as the art, of medicine… A marvelous, arresting read.” –Library Journal (starred review)
“[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 University of California, San Francisco, she also holds a Ph.D. in history and social medicine. To learn more about Victoria Sweet and her work, please visit www.victoriasweet.com.
Top customer reviews
There were many reasons I enjoyed the book, which is really many books at once:
-- The author, Dr Victoria Sweet, who has a PhD in medieval history as well as an MD, shares the ancient Latin and Greek etymologies of many terms used in patient care today. Hospitality, community, charity - what do they really mean? Through her stories about her time taking care of patients, Dr Sweet shows how those formed the three foundational principles of Laguna Honda Hospital.
-- Dr Sweet interweaves the account of her doctoral research on Hildegard von Bingen in the story. Von Bingen was the original 11th century superwoman: head cleric, builder, farmer, physician, author *and* composer at a time when women weren't allowed much power at all. Dr Sweet applies some of the premodern principles from von Bingen's healing framework to her patients, with encouraging results.
-- Dr Sweet describes in great detail and without spite the encroachment of modern medicine with its "efficiencies" into the cozy, personable and strangely effective ways of Laguna Honda, even though there is much to provoke the reader's dismay. The personal, health and financial consequences of cost-cutting, both on patients and staff, turn out to be much higher than the dollars that those measures purport to save. It's a cautionary tale about what medicine can be vs. what it has become, and should be required reading for every medical student.
-- And most of all, the stories of the patients. Laguna Honda being a hospital for the care of the indigent - the last almshouse in the US - its patients are people that the good life left behind. The poor, the mentally ill, the unlucky, those with nowhere else to go: these are the patients that Laguna Honda treats equally and without prejudice. Sometimes the patient goes to the brink of death, the 'anima' already halfway in ascent, and turns back. Other times, the patients make miraculous recoveries only to succumb to alcohol or neglect once discharged. These case histories are at once invigorating, enlightening, infuriating and heartbreaking. They are the human heart of the book.
One of the side effects of reading any book is to become partially imbued with the spirit of its author. Reading 'God's Hotel', you get a sense that Dr Victoria Sweet is a deeply thoughtful and compassionate person, and one of the very best kind of caregivers one could hope to have. As a result, this book will not only delight and instruct you, but is also likely to leave you a better human being.
-- Ali Binazir, M.D., M.Phil., author of [...], the highest-rated dating self-help book on Amazon
And no, I didn't entirely miss the message of the much larger, much richer tapestry woven by this delightful read. I travelled right along, taking my own pilgrimage of sorts as Victoria Sweet took hers. I could relate to every lesson taught by these unwitting and unlikely teachers. The only thing that was missing for me was the story of Ms. Sweet herself. She's told everyone else's, but little of her own. Sometimes I felt as though the context swirled around her without her having the ability to make any impact, as though she were one of the resident ghosts.
If that seems harsh, consider that this is still an almost perfect book, and the criticism is only by way of request. Please, Ms. Sweet, who are you?