Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital
Pulitzer prize winning author Davis Oshinsky sets his laser focus on the history of the most famous hospital in the United States. This is the thrilling story of the three hundred years of Bellevue Public Hospital in New York City. The author exposes and analyses every aspect of this unparalleled public resource, from its humble beginnings as an alms house to its preeminence as the largest, greatest, most enduring public health institution in the United States. Most of all this is the story of the survival, expansion, and adaptability of an institution that has rolled with many punches and altered itself to historical circumstances while keeping one thing constant and true, its mission to provide care to the most needy and unfortunate of New York City, to turn no one away. Whether it was rising to the challenge of the 19th century Typhoid Fever epidemic or standing tall and proud as an indispensable resource in the 1980’s and 90’s, for thousands of young men who had little hope in the face of the devastatingly deadly AIDS epidemic that took the world wide medical establishment by surprise, Bellevue has been available to those with nowhere else to turn for healthcare. As I read this book I came to admire and view in a different light this hospital that, like most other people, I had only ever associated with the bedlam of mental illness. This book shows that this public hospital is so much more and establishes that, with all its flaws, Bellevue is a testament to the dedication of brilliant men and women to the care of their fellow man, no matter what the health crisis. Woven throughout this tome is an informative history of medicine over the past three centuries, but never far and often at the center stands Bellevue. There are many characters, many failures, many scandals, many miracles, many triumphs, many firsts in medicine that contribute to the story of this most necessary and enduring public health resource. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the history of one of the most important public safety nets ever conceived, built, and maintained.