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Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God and Diversity on Steroids

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  675 ratings  ·  112 reviews
A bestselling author and award winning journalist follows a year in the life of a big urban hospital, painting a revealing portrait of how medical care is delivered in America today

Most people agree that there are complicated issues at play in the delivery of health care today, but those issues may not always be what we think they are. In 2005, Maimonides Hospital in Broo
Hardcover, 363 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by Penguin Press (first published May 19th 2008)
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3.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  675 ratings  ·  112 reviews

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Petal Eggs
Sep 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medicine-science
This book was about the administration of Maimonides Hospital in New York and just about as thrilling as that sounds! It was a long, hard slog but in the same way as hill-walking is pretty hard step by step, but worth it for the view, the interesting things you see along the way and the accomplishment, quite enjoyable.

It was a real eye-opener for me, a hospital which is a business first, the chosen product being health care, coming as I do from the UK where private insurance for health care is
Aug 08, 2011 rated it did not like it
I'm very much a biased reader, but I have to ask where are the nurses? It really should have been called Hospital Administration. The author says she spent a year observing the workings at Maimonides but not once does she talk about the employees that are the backbone of any hospital. Ignore me while I rant but, every other person quoted in the book gets named and even most get a few glib sentences about their background, appearance or character. The nurses are called just that, "said by a nurse ...more
Mikey B.
Nov 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: health, journalism
This is a moving account of a hospital in Brooklyn. It is most rewarding when describing the plight of patients and their interactions with the doctors. To the credit of the author she never seems to take sides – or is unwilling to finger-point. There are emotional and excruciating passages – after all this is a hospital where there is death and prolonged dying. This is not a book one reads for extended durations of time (as one tends to do with a mystery novel) – it is too much to bear at times ...more
Aug 17, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Read about 1/2. This book is desperately in need of a good editor...or at least a central point. It appears to be simply a brain dump of all the information collected by the author. Long conversations are repeated in their entirety.

Also, we get the fact that the hospital is unique in its cultural and ethnic diversity. The reader doesn't have to be repeatedly bludgeoned with the fact.
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is big picture hospital stuff--focusing on dozens of people in a major metropolitan area (Brooklyn) where 60 languages can be spoken in the ER. Founded as a Jewish hospital, the hospital still caters to the Orthodox who live in the neighborhood, but also a plethora of immigrants--some legal and some not--and a huge number of diseases and insurance coverages or lack thereof. I am generally interested in individual patient and doctor and nurse stories, but this was a compelling big picture lo ...more
May 11, 2008 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laurie by: NYT
Shelves: nonfiction
Today I enjoyed reading an article adapted from this book. I always love these New York diversity stories.

Update: the book was interesting, but I only recommend it if you are passionately interested in reading about hospitals. I felt the author never really found the story she was looking for, and the book lacked direction. It was also difficult to keep track of the various people (hospital staff) who are introduced. The author didn't exhibit the gift of
Sep 12, 2008 rated it it was ok
This really isn't a two-star book -- it's well-written and, I'm sure, very valuable -- but it wasn't what I was expecting. Policy meetings, fund-raising efforts, and departmental politics are no more interesting (to me) just because they take place in a hospital and not at Nabisco or Walmart or any other business. I was expecting more gritty, human, behind-the-scenes stories of life in a big urban hospital. But hey, my fault for not reading the blurbs and reviews more carefully!
Jason Robinson
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Too bogged down in statistics and numbers- more of a budgetary look at managing a hospital, the author should have focused more on stories about individual patients.
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book hoping to get a better sense of how hospitals are run. This is not that book. There is a lot of talk about administrative politics at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, but the politics are so particular to this hospital that you can't really glean leanings about the industry as a whole just from these observations.

To be frank, it is an extremely boring subject matter. I almost put the book down multiple times, but it is a testament to Salamon's writing skill that I slo
Anna Engel
Jul 17, 2015 rated it liked it
[2.75 stars]

Some of "Hospital" is fascinating, but much of it drags. This was an in-depth look at one hospital, Maimonides, and the people who make it run, both on a day-to-day basis and in the big picture. The author goes into great detail into the personalities, work habits, and politics of hospital employees, which gets pretty tedious.

I was expecting more stories about life in the hospital, rather than the individuals involved. As a result, the book starts to feel like propaganda for the hosp
Jun 17, 2011 added it
I was really looking forward to this book--and then I put it down halfway through. I love books about workplaces that are unfamiliar to me, and I did find some of the actual hospital stuff interesting, especially since Maimonides is the one where I was born, and I'm very familiar with the neighborhood. But occasionally the author would add in these asides that were extremely judgemental, and it bugged me. The rest of the book would be fairly detached and objective, and then she'd introduce a per ...more
May 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
Actually, mostly just red tape and money. The inner workings of a hospital are naturally fraught with human drama and literal life-and-death situations, so it's a shame that Salamon couldn't make this more engaging. She focuses on the bureaucratic wrangling of doctors and directors and neglects the human interest, to a large extent, of the patients themselves. Maybe if you work in medicine, this will resonate more deeply with you than it did with me. I wandered numbly through it, waiting to be m ...more
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating look at the bureaucracy of a hospital, but not just any hospital--a hospital that encompasses one of the most diverse populations in the country or the world. It was a very interesting read. I define a good non-fiction read as one that makes me want to learn more about the topic--or any part of it. I found myself looking up many aspects of the story as I read. READS Audio:
Dec 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
I'm not done with this non-fiction book yet, but it is intriguing and well-written by the well-known journalist Julie Salamon. Comparing Mamoinides to life at St. Vincent's is a trip, and it was a real bargain on remainder at the CCC bookstore for only 4.95 (originally in hardback) for $25.95!
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
The book is about hospital politics in Maimonides hospital in Brooklyn New York. I thought the book was simply okay some interesting stories other stories were petty and uninspiring unworthy of being stories about the healer class.
Apr 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting. Not quite what I expected
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I never was able to pronounce the name of Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it.

The last bit of the subtitle: "and Diversity on Steroids" initially had me rolling my eyes, and even made me think twice about buying the book, as it seemed flip and unserious, but after reading it, it's quite seriously true and was the fact about the hospital that left the biggest impression on me. Now I lived in Queens for five years, so I thought I knew diversity, but what Ma
Apr 26, 2009 rated it did not like it
The first chapter was really interesting. It made me think I was going to get a lot of interesting perspective. I think I thought I was getting an idea of a hospital from a medical student / doctor/ nurse's / administrator's / outsider's / community member's / immigrant's point of view. The anatomy of a hospital, I guess?

Instead this book turned into one about its politics. The politics behind building a new cancer wing, the dissent between separate specialized practices over money and personal
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
There was far too much about hospital politics in this book and not enough about what a hospital stands for: healing. (Or at least should stand for--after reading Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God and Diversity on Steroids, I wasn't so sure.) Not that the administrative side of running a hospital wasn't interesting, but in my opinion the author overdid it (or should have titled it differently!).

I think the book would have been better if the aut
711Isabel B
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
So far, I'm really enjoying HOSPITAL: MAN WOAMN BIRTH DEATH INFINITY, PLUS RED TAPE, BAD BEHAVIOR, MONEY, GOD, AND DIVERSITY ON STEROIDS, by Julie Salamon. It is interesting, because so far, I think that an important idea is that people can cause chaos. For example, Pamela Brier, the CEO and president of Maimonides Medical Center. She has a sort of nervous energy, where she can't sit still during a meeting. She is a strong CEO, but she also has strong ideals, which she has trouble letting down a ...more
Rhonda Sue
Oct 31, 2015 rated it liked it
This is an interesting sort of expose of Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. The author spent a year following folks around the hospital and more. From myriad interviews of interns to the president of the hospital and others throughout the organization, she gives you an inside look into what a community hospital deals with. In this case, you're dealing with major diversity or as she aptly states, "diversity on steroids" and 67 different languages. From a large Orthodox contingent to illegal i ...more
Jan 27, 2009 rated it liked it
This book covers all that goes on behind the scenes at Maimonides Hospital in NYC--as the cover says: "Man, woman, birth, death, infinity, plus red tape, bad behavior, money, God, and diversity on steroids." Quite accurate! There are eye-popping details in the area of departmental feuds over funding, the personality conflicts between doctors who are also department heads, and the incredible power & control of insurance companies. Maimonides is also unique in that it was founded by and intend ...more
Jon Silver
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fascinating book. An in-depth and beautifully written look inside a hectic Brooklyn hospital (Maimonides), focusing mostly on the executives but also the senior doctors, residents, fellows, nurses, and other parts of this gargantuan healthcare enterprise. The accounts of the petty rivalries were juicy and a joy to read, as was learning the intricacies of positioning a hospital as a community beacon in a community as radically diverse as South Central Brooklyn.

Indeed, like the hospital it descri
Dec 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Those who are interested in the workings of a hospital from an executive/leadership standpoint
My favorite genre of books is medical non-fiction, and having visited New York City many times, though not to this or any of their hospitals, I bought the book with high hopes that it would give me a glimpse into a portion of this fascinating city, much like many of the post-9/11 books I've read have.
Unfortunately, while it did provide insight into the workings of the hospital and the way it met the needs of its community, it was very much focused on the executives of the hospital and their effo
Jun 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. As a libarian who spends 40+ hours per week in a health care setting, I usually avoid books and tv shows about hospitals. But this book was the exception that proves the rule. A nonfiction work written by a woman who was given full access to all hospital departments over a full year, it reads more like a novel than a sociological treatise. A lot was familiar -- turf battles over space, struggles for profitability -- but I also learned a lot about the inner workings of h ...more
Aug 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very interesting. A real life experience in not just how hospitals work, but how people working and living in the hospitals work with each other. Reads like a story even though it is non-fiction. There were many people involved in this book, making it sometimes difficult to remember who was who, but it was refreshing to see the candor that they gave to the author. (Or at least what they offered in their interview to the author. However the author seemed to have a good sense for the person being ...more
Jul 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: current-events
I agree with one of the reviewers of this book, it doesn't have a theme. But it is a well-written, thoughtful, and informative account of the inner workings of a major NYC hospital and the forces that determine or stand in the way of it's success. I was especially interested in reading this book because it was recommended in Oprah magazine but primarily because my husband is the director of engineering there. He hasn't read the book (and to my surprise, alot of the people who work there haven't ...more
Feb 27, 2010 rated it liked it
This is normally just the kind of nonfiction that I love: based on immersion reporting from a familiar but not well understood setting. But Salamon's portrait of a year in the life of a Brooklyn hospital is mostly just chaotic--it was difficult to keep track of all the characters, the hospital departments, and even the basic chronology of events. I was willing to give the author some benefit of the doubt, since chaos is an integral part of her story, but I thought some judicious editing could ha ...more
May 12, 2009 rated it liked it
What I learned from this book with the long title is that there is a lot more going on in a city hospital than meets the eye. This behind-the-scenes look at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn is really an eye opener. There are so many factors at play in making this hospital work: administration, pressure from various ethnic groups for appropriate care, personalities and players in the tiers of medicine, and of course money matters. Salamon obviously spent a great deal of time and energy in research ...more
May 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
I marked this book with two stars although I didn't finish it. It was interesting but not gripping enough to keep me reading. I don't want to criticize the writing. The writing was good. I thought the book would be more of a behind the scenes account of the medicine of a hospital, not necessarily of the administration of the hospital (which I probably would have realized if I read the description of the book more carefully).

So although I didm't finish the book and only gave it two stars, I do th
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Julie Salamon has written ten books in many genres, most recently Mutt's Promise, illustrated by Jill Weber. Their previous collaboration was Cat in the City. Julie's other books include New York Times bestsellers Wendy and the Lost Boys and The Christmas Tree (also illustrated by Jill Weber--a new edition was released Fall, 2016), as well as Hospital, The Devil’s Candy, Facing the Wind , The Net ...more