A spirit of Charity - Restoring the Bond between America and Its Public Hospitals - by Mike King and published last June by Secant Publishing treat for sure a warm, warm theme in the American society and policy: public health.
What a wonderful book this one. You feel it, you participate, you see injustices, and you would want to change the world. You suffer while reading this book.
Not only this book treats of public structures, in particular the born, progression and story of the Grady Memorial Hospital of Atlanta, Georgia, but also of the progression of the medicine during the various decades and centuries. Before and after the Secession War there were many changes in terms of important discoveries in medicine.
Some public structures in the USA, are real excellence like Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where no one apart poor are cured apart some exceptions.
At the Grady Memorial Hospital HIV/AIDS patients are cured with success, but also cancer patients, where also a wealthy patient could start a treatment with chemotherapy. The hospital is great also for minor problems, and the list of excellence of this place pretty inexpensive and for people that can't afford any kind of health insurance, many.
When these hospitals were born and why?
Well in the past centuries of course poorest people could count just (and still exist for black people and they're called charity hospitals) in charity places where they were cured.
Plus black people. It was unthinkable to create structures where black and white people could co-exist centuries and decades ago.
At some point in 1800 a sister arrived from Ireland, Mary Cecilia her name from the order of The Sister of Mercy, Order founded in Ireland, and she created in New Orleans one of the best hospital for poor people that only Katrina in 2005 was able to ruin forever: The Charity Hospital later not anymore re-built.
In this hospital thanks as it happens also in other part of the USA a pact with the government people were cured pretty freely. This one a hospital for the poorest part of the city.
Once the hospital became a strong name sister Mary Cecilia founded another reality at Atlanta, calling this new hospital for poor: Saint Joseph.
The main illness in 1800? Infections like yellow fever, malaria, dysentery. In some places dead people were transported away and buried in various cemeteries only during the night for not scaring people because of the massive numbers of departures.
It was thought that maybe yellow fever could be contracted also thanks to corpses.
At Atlanta a journalist who became the editor of The Constitution, Henry Grady, started his battle for the creation of another hospital for poor people with free sanitary system. He died abruptly in 1888 so without to seeing the realization of this dream that would have been entitled at his memory.
Sure it hasn't been simple to going on for Grady Memorial Hospital. The pact established with the government not always brought the necessary money every year, and the hospital divided in White Wing and Black Wing. The Black Wing didn't have a nursery and so black women constricted to have their children at home.
Once the Grady had problems with ambulances. They wanted to buy a real ambulance and not just a horse ambulance but when found money and bought it they couldn't cover the ambulance with the proper insurance and so once in an incident they lost the ambulance. A Funeral Home helped them for a brief period...
At the same time new changes were going on in medicine. One of the main problem in case of operation was: how to keep the patient calm? How can it be possible to "kill" the pain while a doctor operated? Alcohol? Whiskey? The discovery of ether, used also as a drug for giving euphoria, the best answer of it. Long and Morton discovered ether and it was maybe one of the best success of medicine. Long from the South used it for various operations from child birth to massive more important operations as the removal of tumors in patients, Morton from Boston a dentist tried it for pulling out tooth. It was a success.
Stethoscope arrived in the new world (known in Europe) only in 1868-1869 as mentioned in various Boston's articles.
Another important discovery: the hygiene factor. If in the past no one would have taken in consideration hygiene, now it became fundamental.
Doctors understood that maybe most of the germs and virus transmitted thanks to bad hygienic conditions.
The first blood bank in 1930 at the Cook County Hospital.
It will be a long long process the one that will bring the Grady Memorial Hospital all unified without the divisions between Black and White wanted by the local black and white administrators.
You will discover in this book a myriad of great informations, including the complete story till at recent years of the Grady Memorial Hospital and also the story of health insurances, from the first ones in 1910 just for covering injuries, passing later to a complete sanitary coverage.The author doesn't forget Lindon Johnson with the introduction of Medicare.
Medicare helped the elderly part of the population but not the poorest ones who can't afford any kind of health insurance. Also Bill Clinton was back with a new reform in this sense.
King treats also the chapter ObamaCare, the extension of the Medicare and the possibility still a dream, the President tried to fight for it, for an extension of free health system to all the poorest of the country for giving dignity to everyone.
It still is a dream but let's hope for not too long.
Other part of the books will also treat HIV/AIDS and other thematic I am sure will interest you.
It's a book able to touch the heart this one and while I was reading it I was thinking at the doctors, nurses working everyday in these hospitals for poor and I keep them all in my heart.
I am italian and I can tell you in our public structures we are all cured. And at the hospital or in our doc studio we wait in line with great tranquility sat in companion with black, Moroccan and their children and other people of our community and no one care if the skin of the person close to us is white, or yellow or brown or black. We haven't never separated our hospitals because of the skin (but it is true that our history is very different from the one of the USA) and our best hospitals are surely public structures. I just hope that if there are still problems like these ones in the USA they can be sorted out. It would be time.
I strongly suggest this book for understanding the story of the public American hospital but also the American sanitary system and the continuous fight for keeping this voice equal for everyone during the centuries.
It can be a great gift for Christmas!
I thank NetGalley for this book!