Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital

Book - 2016
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"Bellevue Hospital, on New York City's East Side, occupies a colorful and horrifying place in the public imagination- a den of mangled crime victims, vicious psychopaths, assorted derelicts, lunatics, and exotic-disease sufferers. In its two and a half centuries of service, there was hardly an epidemic or social catastrophe-or groundbreaking scientific advance-that did not touch Bellevue. David Oshinsky, whose last book, Polio- An American Story , was awarded a Pulitzer Prize, chronicles the history of America's oldest hospital and in so doing also charts the rise of New York to the nation's preeminent city, the path of American medicine from butchery and quackery to a professional and scientific endeavor, and the growth of a civic institution. From its origins in 1738 as an almshouse and pesthouse, Bellevue today is a revered public hospital bringing first-class care to anyone in need. With its diverse, ailing, and unprotesting patient population, the hospital was a natural laboratory for the nation's first clinical research. It treated tens of thousands of Civil War soldiers, launched the first civilian ambulance corps and the first nursing school for women, pioneered medical photography and psychiatric treatment, and spurred New York City to establish the country's first official Board of Health. As medical technology advanced, "voluntary" hospitals began to seek out patients willing to pay for their care. For charity cases, it was left to Bellevue to fill the void. The latter decades of the twentieth century brought rampant crime, drug addiction, and homelessness to the nation's struggling cities-problems that called a public hospital's very survival into question. It took the AIDS crisis to cement Bellevue's enduring place as New York's ultimate safety net, the iconic hospital of last resort. Lively, page-turning, fascinating, Bellevue is essential American history."
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, [2016]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780385523363
Characteristics: 387 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm


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Aug 30, 2017

This is a really interesting book about New York’s Bellevue Hospital, and the care it has provided to patients over centuries. This book looks at the historical context of treatment at Bellevue. Whether it's the advent of anesthesia, antiseptics, or heart catheters, the hospital staff has always sought out the best practices to help patients. The book looks at all of the research discoveries that have happened at Bellevue, and the fact that it is a hospital that doesn’t turn anyone away. The hospital may be rough around the edges and surviving on a shrinking budget, but it has helped patients through many historic crises such as the draft riots, Civil War, 1918 flu pandemic, AIDS Crisis, and Hurricane Sandy. This book makes the case for public hospitals, and shows all that they can do for patients.

amf_0 Apr 18, 2017

Detailed and insightful, a fascinating history of American medicine, doctors and hospitals told through the lens of New York's Bellevue Hospital - not just the loony bin of Nellie Bly's sensational expose.

Mar 28, 2017

Oshinsky certainly did his research. Bellevue Hospital is as rich in history as its many patients, doctors, and researchers. A book has to be well written to captivate a reader with so much information. We are taken from a time of miasma clouds and blood letting with a generous use of alcohol often absconded by staff to grave robbing for knowledge of physiology.
What hospital can lead in indigent care, AIDS programs, 9/11 recovery, and even EBOLA.
Fascinating detail. Reminds me of the book Five Days at Memorial which came out after Katrina.


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