Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God, and Diversity on Steroids

Julie Salamon, Author . Penguin Press $25.95 (363p) ISBN 978-1-59420-171-4

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)

Reviewed on: 03/31/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
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