From a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian comes a riveting history of New York's iconic public hospital that charts the turbulent rise of American medicine.
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 20th 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, pause-resisting, fascinating, Bellevue is essential American history.
©2016 David Oshinsky (P)2016 Random House Audio
"No other hospital is as embedded in our culture as Bellevue. David Oshinsky's biography of this grand dame of America's public hospitals is a page-turner, a tale of immigrants and epidemics, politicians and physicians, natural disasters and acts of terrorism, all of which shaped Bellevue, just as they shaped a city and a nation. Public policy at its best and worst comes alive. Oshinsky has captured the spirit, the resilience that is Bellevue, a quality that rubs off on the legions who have trained there. A wonderful read!" (Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone)
"Bellevue is a tale of medicine's tragedies and triumphs in the cauldron of New York City. In vivid prose, David Oshinsky portrays caregivers who, through the centuries, selflessly served the neediest and the unwanted, as well as researchers who pushed the boundaries of clinical knowledge, all the while battling bureaucrats and social indifference. This is a story of America's most esteemed public hospital that will both enlighten and inspire." (Jerome Groopman, MD, author of How Doctors Think)
"David Oshinsky's Bellevue is American history at its very finest. It's impossible to understand our nation's public health advancements without reading this authoritative retelling of New York City's storied hospital. A masterpiece of scholarship." (Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America and The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast)
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I found this book “Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital” absolutely fascinating. Oshinsky not only tells the sweeping detailed history of Bellevue but also the history of American medicine, nursing, public health, environmental health, medical research/ education, and public hospitals.
The author states it was one of the first hospitals starting in the 1660s. It is famous not only as a mental hospital but as one of the finest emergency and trauma centers in the country. It has a long history as the leading infectious disease facility treating yellow fever, tuberculosis, AIDS to Ebola. Steven Forster died at Bellevue and Francis Ford Coppola filmed scenes of the Godfather in its morgue.
Oshinsky tells about the hospital’s role during the Civil War caring for the most Union soldiers of any hospital. The author tells of advances in medicine, nursing and ambulance service during the Civil War. Bellevue was the first hospital to have ambulance services starting after the Civil War. They also designed the first horse drawn ambulance used in the City. Through affiliations with medical schools, it became the largest teaching hospital in the country and a leading research facility. Bellevue is the leading research facility on AIDS. Bellevue treats more than 600,000 patients annually.
The book is well written and meticulously researched. Oshinsky writes in a clear, concise way that is easily readable. Oshinsky is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. This is the first book I have read by Oshinsky. I am looking forward to reading more of his books. Oshinsky builds a strong case for the need of public hospitals. I highly recommend this book.
Fred Sanders does an excellent job narrating the book. Sanders is a stage actor and audiobook narrator.
My commute is awful. It's not terribly long, but I dread it. Audible has helped a lot, and no book has captivated me as well as this one. Fascinating.
I only ever knew of Bellevue by the news reports on TV and newspaper headlines, the rest of the story and the long history of this institution is absolutely fascinating. Bellevue has affected our daily lives in more ways than most of know. This is just a great story, even if history or medicine are not your main interests.
An intriguing and factual history of the United States first hospital. Hearing the history makes one appreciate how far medicine has come in three centuries.
For lovers of history and those fascinated by medicine, this book is wonderful. The author brings the story from the 1700s to modern day with exquisite detail.
Without sounding overly fawning, this was one of the best books I've read in quite some time. I am a proud alumnus (of sorts) of Bellevue Hospital having worked an ambulance stationed there in the 80s (NYC EMS Station 13). I found this book fascinating, gripping and entertaining. If you like non-fiction books about New York City history and medical history and enjoy well written and well spoken audiobooks then you absolutely positively must listen to this book!
This book really grew on me after awhile. In the first couple of sections, there are several "boring" details (i.e. Dr So and So wrote to Other Dr, Other Dr wrote back) - as a listener, I found my mind drifting.
However, the last section of the book is phenomenal and super informative.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in medical or American history.
This book tells the story of the building, its' people, it's' history and its' city in an organized and compelling manner. While listening, I was torn between wanting it to slow down because it was so enjoyable and speed up because it was so interesting. Well worth your credit and your time!
"...we the willing...lead by the unknowing...
...are doing the impossible...for the ungrateful...
...by the time we get done here...we will be qualified...
...to do everything with nothing..."
( bellevue-NYU house staff bathroom wall - 1978 )
? are you intrigued by the inner workings of healthcare
? does the medical history of new york city fascinate you
? are the needs and problems of the poor important to you
if so, david oshinsky has written a throughly terrific book for you
it's the history of indigent medical care in a city constantly re-inventing itself
bellevue has been bravely performing that daunting task for 300 years
trauma, infectious disease, mental illness and drug rehab. predominate
bellevue develops a reputation as a place to train and "...see everything..."
jewish medical students, pushed out by quotas elsewhere, are welcome there
new yorkers are justifiably proud of of bellevue's history and accomplishments
but, as you'd expect, there is a sad undercurrent to all this self congratulation
NYC indifference and parsimony make heroic medical devotion a daily necessity
in the mid 1970's, i finished college ( pre-med ) 90 minutes north of NYC
many of my classmates interviewed and then trained at bellevue-NYU
NYC's impending bankruptcy had left the hospital an insolvent chaotic mess
then a 33 yo pregnant bellevue physician was raped and beaten to death in her office
a manhattan jury later voted 10-2 to absolved bellevue of negligence in her murder
for many of my longtime NYC physician friends, that was the last straw
bill deblasio ran for NYC mayor, in 2013, claiming that there were "...two cities..."
finance, art, entertainment, restaurants and wall street were one city
indigent immigrants, mentally ill drug addicts and the working poor were another
oshinsky tells the brave story "...of the willing..." who seek to care for that 2nd city
NYC is NOT America's leading medical city - Boston, Baltimore, SF etc. out pace it
bellevue's devotion and sacrifice are necessary due to NYC apathy and underfunding
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