COUNTY: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago’s Public Hospital (by David Ansell,M.D.:Nonfiction) © 2011

Rating: 4/5

Summary: David Ansell’s exposé on health care at County, Chicago’s publicly funded hospital, is insightful and thought provoking. The reader is introduced to the many problems and inequities patients and physicians encounter when treatment occurs at a public hospital for low-income and uninsured patients. However, perhaps in spite of itself and Chicago politics, County and its physicians are responsible for the creation of many highly regarded patient treatment and education programs, such as: the Women’s Early Breast Cancer Detection program, the Burn Treatment Center, the Asthma Treatment Center, the Maternal and Infant Health Center, and the Infectious Disease Prevention and Treatment Center as well as the first Trauma Unit, the world’s first Blood Bank and the first Cobalt-beam Therapy Unit. These are impressive health care accomplishments for any hospital but even more so for a hospital dependent on government funding. Finally, in 2002, Cook County Hospital was replaced by the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital. The addition of this the new medical facility eliminated one of the many inhumane conditions patient’s faced at County but it did not eliminate the social inequalities of poverty. Overcoming many obstacles, County/Stroger Hospital continues to strive to provide adequate health care for all.

Review: Health care in the United States has been and always will be a hot button topic. Whether one believes that adequate health care is a basic human right or a privilege, author/physician David Ansell constantly reminds the reader that a person’s quality of life is directly related to their health and no matter if one is rich or poor, politics always plays a role in health care public policy formation. That being said, the author goes about describing how he and his colleagues fought against a formidable foe, namely politics, to create renowned healthcare protocol and programs to better serve the healthcare needs of those they serve. Ansell clearly became a physician because he wanted to help people. Employing great compassion and humanity, he recounts patient stories in a thought provoking manner connecting the patient’s health issues to their life and death. As a healthcare activist, he fought for the under served, now however, he fights for a system that provides adequate medical care for all.

Read-a-likes: My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor is a personal account of how the Harvard trained neuroanatomist recovered from a stroke and retrained her brain using her in depth understanding of the human brain’s inner workings. Her recovery chronicles the physical and emotional journey of a woman trying to become whole. This book is available in the library’s nonfiction collection in several formats: hardcover, audio book, and eAudiobook.

Availability: This book is available from the Lake Bluff Public Library’s nonfiction collection and My Media Mall in downloadable eAudiobook format.

Review by Valerie.

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