God's Hotel

God's Hotel : A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine

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San Francisco's Laguna Honda Hospital is the last almshouse in the country, a descendant of the "HOtel-Dieu" (God's hotel) that cared for the sick in the Middle Ages. Ballet dancers and rock musicians, professors and thieves-"anyone who had fallen, or, often, leapt, onto hard times" and needed extended medical care-ended up here. So did Victoria Sweet, who came for two months and stayed for twenty years.Laguna Honda, lower tech but human paced, gave Sweet the opportunity to practice a kind of attentive medicine that has almost vanished. Gradually, the place transformed the way she understood her work. Alongside the modern view of the body as a machine to be fixed, her extraordinary patients evoked an older idea, of the body as a garden to be tended. "God's Hotel" tells their story and the story of the hospital itself, which, as efficiency experts, politicians, and architects descended, determined to turn it into a modern "health care facility," revealed its own surprising truths about the essence, cost, and value of caring for body and soul.

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  • Hardback | 372 pages
  • 144.78 x 228.6 x 38.1mm | 544.31g
  • Penguin Putnam Inc
  • Riverhead Books,U.S.
  • New YorkUnited States
  • English
  • figures
  • 1594488436
  • 9781594488436
  • 260,929

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"Transcendent... readable chapters go down like restorative sips of cool water, and its hard-core subversion cheers like a shot of gin... "God's Hotel "[is] a tour de force... Others have written about the relationship between time and medical care with similar eloquence and urgency, but the centuries of perspective that Dr. Sweet brings infuse the point with unforgettable clarity." -"The New York Times" "A radical and inspiring alternative vision of caring for the sick." -"Vanity Fair" "Engaging... You might not expect a book about San Francisco's most downtrodden patients to be a page-turner, but it is. With its colorful cast of characters battling the tide of history, "God's Hotel "is a remarkable journey into the essence of medicine." -"San Francisco Chronicle ""Victoria Sweet writes beautifully about the enormous richness of life at Laguna Honda, the chronic [care] hospital where she has spent the last twenty years, and the intense sense of place and community that binds patients and staff there. Such community in the medical world is vanishingly rare now, and Laguna Honda may be the last of its kind... "God's Hotel "is a most important book which raises fundamental questions about the nature of medicine in our time. It should be required reading for anyone interested in the 'business' of healthcare - and especially those interested in the humanity of healthcare." -Oliver Sacks, M.D. author of "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat "and "The Mind's Eye" "A beautifully written and illuminating book... [Sweet's] metaphors are poetic and hint at the mystical, but then she pulls back with the educated eye of a scientist... For both the agnostic and the believer, Sweet pinpoints the element of medicine that makes it a calling rather than a job: the unique and sustaining love that is sparked between a doctor and patient." -Jerome Groopman, "The New York Review of Books" "Captivating... with this humane and thoughtful work, Swee

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About Victoria Sweet

Victoria Sweet has been a physician at San Francisco's Laguna Honda Hospital for more than twenty years. An associate clinical professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco, she also holds a Ph.D. in history and social medicine. To learn more about Victoria Sweet and her work, please visit www.victoriasweet.com.

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