County: Life, Death, and Politics at Chicago's Public Hospital

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9780897337199: County: Life, Death, and Politics at Chicago's Public Hospital
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"Named by the "Wall Street Journal "as one of the five best health books of 2011!County" is the amazing tale of one of America's oldest and most unusual urban public hospitals. From its inception as a "poor house" dispensing free medical care to indigents, Chicago's Cook County Hospital has been both a renowned teaching hospital and the health care provider of last resort for the city's uninsured. "County" covers more than thirty years of its history, beginning in the late 1970s when the author began his internship, to the "final rounds" in 2002, when hundreds of former trainees and personnel, many of whom shared Ansell's vision of resurrecting a hospital in critical condition, gathered to bid the iconic Victorian hospital building an emotional farewell before it was closed to make way for a new facility."County" is about people--from Ansell's mentors, including the legendary Quentin Young, to the multitude of patients whom he and County's medical staff labored to diagnose and heal. It is a story about politics; from contentious union strikes, to battles against "patient dumping." Most importantly, it chronicles the battles for instigating new programs that would help to prevent, rather than just treat, serious illnesses, including the opening of County's HIV/AIDS clinic (the first in the city), as well as an early-detection breast cancer screening program. Finally, it is about an idealistic young man's medical education in urban America, a coming-of-age story set against a backdrop of race, segregation, and poverty.

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Review:

"CHICAGO TRIBUNE: "

."..the many ways in which poor patients were mistreated and devalued on its premises are the true subject of this book -- a valuable addition to the historical record of Cook County and its problem-ridden health care system. Ansell takes readers behind the scenes for a look at deplorable conditions."

Julia Keller, "Chicago Tribune:
"
."..'County' is a landmark book, brave and angry and indispensable, not least because Ansell dares to declare that the health reform legislation passed in 2010 -- dubbed 'Obamacare' -- was no breakthrough. It 'preserved the caste system of health care in America, one that all but guarantees different health outcomes depending on the patient's health insurance status.' "

Abigail Zuger, M.D., """The New York Times:
"
.".. when it comes to the stories of his patients, many of whom he cared for over decades, from clinic to hospital to funeral, Dr. Ansell soars. These sketches are, to be sure, the standard-issue material of a good doctor trying to do right by a set of immensely beleaguered fellow citizens. But unlike fairy tales, we cannot have too many of these stories in circulation, to bear witness, to inform and to inspire."

A.W. Klink, Duke Univ., NC:

"Ansell (chief medical officer, Rush Univ. Medical Ctr.) spent his medical residency and much of his early professional career at Cook County Hospital, historically Chicago's public hospital for low-income and uninsured patients. He weaves strands of memoir and policy analysis into a heartfelt account of the hospital's challenges, failures, and successes over three decades, from the Civil Rights Movement to the AIDS crisis, in the process educating and moving the reader to both anger and compassion. His gift for describing the connections between social forces and medical care, coupled with the vivid patient stories interspersed with trenchant critiques of the politics of health care, makes this work stand out.
Verdict: Ansell skillfully humanizes questions of health-care policy by describing real-life scenarios. Those who enjoyed such books as Richard Selzer's Letters to a Young Doctor will find this book an education for both the mind and the heart."

Judith Graham, "Chicago Tribune:
"
"On one level, Ansell's book is the coming-of-age story of a young, idealistic physician from the East Coast encountering racism and bare-knuckle politics in Chicago as he learns the basics of his demanding profession. With unusual honesty, Ansell, now the chief medical officer at Rush University Medical Center, recounts several medical mistakes that badly injured patients or cost their lives -- a result of his inexperience and challenging conditions at the old Cook County Hospital."

"Ansell skillfully humanizes questions of health-care policy by describing real-life scenarios . . . his gift for describing the connections between social forces and medical care, coupled with the vivid patient stories interspersed with trenchant critiques of the politics of health care, makes this work stand out." --- Library Journal

.".. when it comes to the stories of his patients, many of whom he cared for over decades, from clinic to hospital to funeral, Dr. Ansell soars. These sketches are, to be sure, the standard-issue material of a good doctor trying to do right by a set of immensely beleaguered fellow citizens. But unlike fairy tales, we cannot have too many of these stories in circulation, to bear witness, to inform and to inspire." -- Abigail Zuger, M.D., " The New York Times
"


"On one level, Ansell's book is the coming-of-age story of a young, idealistic physician from the East Coast encountering racism and bare-knuckle politics in Chicago as he learns the basics of his demanding profession. With unusual honesty, Ansell, now the chief medical officer at Rush University Medical Center, recounts several medical mistakes that badly injured patients or cost their lives -- a result of his inexperience and challenging conditions at the old Cook County Hospital." -- Judith Graham, "Chicago Tribune
"

."..'County' is a landmark book, brave and angry and indispensable, not least because Ansell dares to declare that the health reform legislation passed in 2010 -- dubbed 'Obamacare' -- was no breakthrough. It 'preserved the caste system of health care in America, one that all but guarantees different health outcomes depending on the patient's health insurance status.' " -- Julia Keller, "Chicago Tribune
"

"Ansell (chief medical officer, Rush Univ. Medical Ctr.) spent his medical residency and much of his early professional career at Cook County Hospital, historically Chicago's public hospital for low-income and uninsured patients. He weaves strands of memoir and policy analysis into a heartfelt account of the hospital's challenges, failures, and successes over three decades, from the Civil Rights Movement to the AIDS crisis, in the process educating and moving the reader to both anger and compassion. His gift for describing the connections between social forces and medical care, coupled with the vivid patient stories interspersed with trenchant critiques of the politics of health care, makes this work stand out.

Verdict: Ansell skillfully humanizes questions of health-care policy by describing real-life scenarios. Those who enjoyed such books as Richard Selzer's Letters to a Young Doctor will find this book an education for both the mind and the heart." -- A.W. Klink, Duke Univ., NC

About the Author:

DAVID ANSELL, MD, a Chicago based physician and health activist, has been an internal medicine physician since training at Cook County Hospital in the late 1970s, where he spent seventeen years. Now, chief medical officer at Rush University Medical Center, he also sees patients, teaches, volunteers as a doctor at a Chicago free clinic, and participates in medical missions to the Dominican Republic and Haiti. He is married to a doctor and has two children.

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