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Bellevue : three centuries of medicine and mayhem at America's most storied hospital
2016
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Genre
NonFiction
Medical
Topics
Psychopaths
Imagination
Hospitals
Medical technology
Homeless
Health care industry
Setting
New York - Mid-Atlantic States (U.S.)
Time Period
1736-2000s -- 18th-21st century
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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

Evolving from an early 1700s almshouse to a 21st-century public charitable hospital, Bellevue is frequently in the news for its charitable mission and excellent trauma center. Sometimes referred to as "the hospital of last resort" by New Yorkers, Bellevue also has a history of taking the lead in numerous medical innovations including the first civilian ambulance service, the first female nursing school, the first outpatient clinics, pioneering surgery and medical research, and the first to create individual departments for psychiatry, pediatrics, and radiology. In a fascinating, fact-filled, and entertaining story, Oshinsky (Polio: An American Story) traces Bellevue's history, its relationship to New York City's development, and the advancement of American medicine. Actor Fred Sanders (The Buddy Holly Story) holds listeners' attention in his emotive and nicely paced narration. VERDICT Will be of interest to premed and medical students, those involved in the history of medicine, or curious about Bellevue's history and connection to New York City. ["This readable, smoothly flowing, and well-documented account should fascinate": LJ 9/1/16 review of the Doubleday hc.]-Laurie Selwyn, formerly with Grayson Cty. Law Lib., Sherman, TX © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Oshinsky, professor of history at NYU and Pulitzer-winner for Polio: An American Story, positions Bellevue as "a microcosm of the city it serves," tracing its development from its hazy 17th-century origins as a Dutch infirmary to its emergence as a 21st-century cultural fixture. Bellevue's mission of providing free care to the destitute means every epidemic and wave of immigration to reach New York Harbor has passed through its doors. Oshinsky attempts to place Bellevue in dual context, plying medical and socioeconomic history. He struggles with the physicality and aura of this massive institution, which in 1816 added "an orphanage, a morgue, a pest house, a prison, and a lunatic asylum" to its almshouse and infirmary. By the 1950s it had expanded to include 84 wards over five city blocks. Its medical and psychiatric practices have been vehemently criticized, and its political battles have been ruthless. As a result, the chapters overflow with background and sometimes read like scrambled-together lectures. Oshinsky often shortchanges his fascinating subject while discoursing into fascinating, if tangential, asides. When he stays on task, he focuses on a handful of elite physicians-William Hammond, Stephen Smith, Edith Lincoln, Saul Farber-while the bulk of Bellevue's lifeblood goes unchronicled. Despite Bellevue's rich history, the narrative doesn't truly cohere. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
"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."
Table of Contents
Introductionp. 1
1Beginningsp. 11
2Hosack's Visionp. 29
3The Great Epidemicp. 46
4Teaching Medicinep. 66
5A Hospital in Warp. 85
6"Hives of Sickness and Vice"p. 102
7The Bellevue Ambulancep. 111
8Bellevue Venusp. 120
9Nightingalesp. 129
10Germ Theoryp. 141
11A Tale of Two Presidentsp. 152
12The Mad-Housep. 168
13The New Metropolisp. 180
14Cause of Deathp. 202
15The Shocking Truthp. 214
16Survivalp. 238
17AIDSp. 259
18Rock Bottomp. 277
19Sandyp. 290
20Rebirthp. 308
Epiloguep. 318
Acknowledgmentsp. 323
A Note on Sourcesp. 326
Notesp. 329
Illustration Creditsp. 370
Indexp. 372
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