cover image The People’s Hospital: Hope and Peril in American Medicine

The People’s Hospital: Hope and Peril in American Medicine

Ricardo Nuila. Scribner, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-1-5011-9804-5

Physician Nuila debuts with a troubling yet inspirational look at the state of healthcare for America’s “most medically and financially vulnerable.” Spotlighting Ben Taub Hospital in Houston, Tex., “the largest safety-net hospital in one of America’s most diverse cities,” Nuila profiles seven patients caught up in a system that denies them life-saving medical care due to their lack of resources, and reveals the difference being treated with dignity can make. The book’s most harrowing sections recount the story of Geronimo (no last name given), a 36-year-old Mexican immigrant suffering from epilepsy, hepatitis C, and liver disease. With the help of hospital staff, Geronimo had previously applied for and been accepted into Medicaid, which would have paid for a liver transplant, only to have it revoked because his monthly disability payment was $179 too high. (He would have been covered in other states, Nuila explains, but Texas refused the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.) Though a U.S. congressman intervened and Geronimo’s Medicaid coverage was reinstated, he died before a transplant could be scheduled. Woven into this and other, more hopeful, case studies are poignant reflections on the life of a doctor and incisive analyses of how for-profit medicine hurts patients. This is an urgent and essential call for a more humane healthcare system. Agent: Anna Stein, ICM Partners. (Mar.)