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Sometimes Amazing Things Happen: Heartbreak and Hope on the Bellevue Hospital Psychiatric Prison Ward
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Sometimes Amazing Things Happen: Heartbreak and Hope on the Bellevue Hospital Psychiatric Prison Ward

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  883 ratings  ·  102 reviews
From the Executive Director of Mental Health for Correctional Services in New York City, comes a revelatory and deeply compassionate memoir that takes readers inside Bellevue, and brings to life the world—the system, the staff, and the haunting cases—that shaped one young psychiatrist as she learned how to doctor and how to love. 

Elizabeth Ford went through medical school
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by Regan Arts.
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3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  883 ratings  ·  102 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me so angry, incredibly sad, appalled and disgusted with our legal system and federal government in their agregious treatment of the mentally ill. This is supposed to be one of the most advanced countries on our planet but our health care for the mentally ill has declined steadily ever since Reagan's mandates and his emptying of the institutions put in place to handle these cases. Leaving many with few options but life on the street.

The author Dr. Elizabeth Ford spent many years
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was quite an interesting narrative by a doctor, Elizabeth Ford, who spent several years working on the jail impatient psychiatry service at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.

Dr Ford relates her experiences with patients, who were inmates at Riker's Island prison, as well as her interactions with staff, and the families of those she treated. It takes a special kind of person to work under the situation and conditions that Dr Ford did. Oftentimes her tales were one of heartbreak, abuse, and
"I have come to see my success as a doctor not by how well I treat mental illness but how well I respect and honour my patients' humanity, no matter where they are or what they have done."
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographical
"Sometimes Amazing Things Happen" gives us insight into the difficult challenge of caring for mentally ill patients at the crossroads of psychiatry and the criminal justice system. Dr. Ford cares for patients who are violent, developmentally delayed, and have survived harrowing abuse as children. Elizabeth Ford reveals her triumphs in improving care and helping patients. However, she does not paint herself as a hero. She looses her temper, is overcome by exhaustion, deals with fear of her patien ...more
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very few books make me want to read the hardcover edition hot off the presses. This is one of them. At once engaging and dramatic, the book delves through every emotion inmates and therapists experience, some less flattering than others, reminding the reader that Dr. Ford is at minimum honest. Her earnest desire to tell the stories of those she has come to serve, and how she managed their inevitable impact on her own life, is sincere and poignant. Surprisingly accessible, Ford's casual voice rem ...more
This book covers Dr. Ford’s psychiatry rotation in medical school. She says she discovered her calling on that rotation. She went on to become Chief of Psychiatry for Correctional Health Services in New York City. She worked at Bellevue Hospital and Riker’s Island. Ford discusses the mentally ill in the jail system. She also includes personal information about the problems of balancing her professional and personal life.

The book is well written and provides the reader with a good overview of th
I loved this book so much, and was really disappointed when it was over. I picked it up by chance at the bookstore in the airport, and a good part of my vacation was spent devouring it during free time. I highly recommend and hope to hear more from her, and will be seeking out other books like this.

Dr. Elizabeth Ford shares some of her experiences while treating Rikers Island inmates at Bellevue Hospital. She works with people charged with crimes ranging from smoking marijuana to child sexual a
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well written inside glimpse inside the prison ward at Bellevue hospital. You have to be a very remarkable person to work there.
Kara Ayala
Very disappointing. Having a medical background myself, I expected this book to shed some interesting light on the world of inpatient psychiatric care. Instead, I struggled every day to even turn another page. It was dull, lacking purpose(s), and seemed composed of random ramblings, or "stories" by the author. Such stories were mediocre at best and failed to elicit any emotions in me, other than sheer boredom. I kept with it, hoping for some major dilemmas or revealing circumstances toward the e ...more
Rachel Estrada
This was interesting, but rather uneven. Reading it felt like I was skimming through a photo album, viewing the events in the moment, but with no backstory or conclusions for most of the folks pictured. The writing style was often also a little dry for me - like she was just reciting the facts.
I love reading books about careers I am not qualified for. This was interesting but a bit aimless--it could have used more structure. I was not interested in the parts about her family and about work-life balance, but maybe if I were a parent, I would have enjoyed those. Dr. Ford is doing extraordinary work with some of the most ill, desperate, and violent people in the country.
Peyton S
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book! Definitely a good read for people who are interested in abnormal psychology, as well as a inside look into the life of a psychiatrist! I definitely recommend this book to anyone as well because it is a good look into reality. this book teaches you to understand some cases on why people do the things they do, and how to handle life in general.
Waverly Fitzgerald
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
Wonderful account of what could have been a depressing subject: the treatment of mentally ill men who are imprisoned for crimes at Rikers island. But the title says it all. The author is always looking for the silver lining--how to better deliver services to these individuals in need, and she tells their stories with compassion and respect. I couldn't stop reading. it's as much a story of her career as it is of the individuals she treated, as she recounts her early experiences with the mentally ...more
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Ford sees the humanity in her patients. Her compassion for her patient is inspiring. This raw tale of her experiences is compelling and eye opening. Highly recommend, especially to those in the mental health field.
Carolyn Elrod
Jul 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book so you don't have to.
You're welcome
Katrina F
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Made me think!
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Forever fascinated by the topics of psychology and mental illness, and having a daughter who is a mental health worker, this book was a super fast read for me and I recommend to highly to anyone who has those interests.
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a Community Psychiatrist who has worked in all types of settings (including forensic), I can tell you that this book is right on. I was really moved by how similar my own experiences have been to Dr Ford's. I was thrilled to see this book get so much media attention as well.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes Amazing Things Happen is an intriguing, first-hand account of working as a psychiatrist at the Bellevue Hospital Prison Ward in New York City in the early to mid-2000s. It isn't a book I would typically pick up at the library to read, but it caught my eye and I'm glad I did.

Dr. Elizabeth Ford writes with clear-eyed candidness about her often harrowing and demanding job working with often dangerous inmates, who are shuffled back and forth between the Bellevue Psychiatric Ward and Riker
Monika Sylvestre
I leave this book with a lot of conflicting opinions about the author. Part of me has a lot of respect for what she does professionally, while another part of me considers how much time she admits to spending away from her children, and ruined holidays. I am also generally not somebody who is easily offended, but even I was bothered by how many mentions of race she used to describe the characters in the book. Examples: "Tyrone, a tall black man..." "Jamal, a skinny black man..." "Mara, the new P ...more
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I've been interested in Bellevue after seeing Bellevue: Inside Out on HBO over fifteen years ago. The author provides a lot of stories about the patients at Bellevue and working conditions. The account of hurricane Sandy was pretty intense. I found this book to be a very interesting read.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had a mixed feeling while reading this book, Dr. Ford was very brave working in Bellevue psychiatric unit. She loved her profession and wanted to help mentally sick incarcerated inmates. The majority of her patients were there because of misdemeanor charges. However, she was treating convicted murderers, who were on a suicide watch. I did not understand her desire to work in Bellevue while having a 18-month old baby at home and being 8 months pregnant. Was this necessary because of money issue ...more
Dec 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-nonfiction
Dr. Elizabeth Ford is a psychiatrist who worked on the Bellevue Hospital psychiatric prison ward, treating mental illness in prisoners from New York's jails, including Riker's Island. Sometimes Amazing Things Happen is a chronicle of her time on the ward; she shares stories of the patients she treated and the bureaucracy and red tape she was often caught up in.

This book definitely featured a lot of heartbreak. The inmates have so much working against them. They're in jail, waiting an indefinite
Gwen - Chew & Digest Books -
Heartbreaking and true in my experience, although on a much larger scale than my experience with California jails.

Dr. Ford is a hero in my book. Her seeming fearlessness, even though she admits at times to being afraid inside, she shows to her patients is awe-inspiring and while I would love to help, I could never do what she does, not on my best day, even if our education was equal.

It also is another highlight of the cost of closing not only Mental Hospitals but the lack of funding to the sup
Mar 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Ford brings us some stories about her long history working at the Bellevue Hospital Psychaitric Prison Ward in New York. From walking in as a junior doctor with little experience to effectively running the unit, she lets us hear about the challenges of dealing with the mentally ill patients in the prison system. Patients who are suicidal or too unwell to be in prison will be transferred to the hospital for treatment, and then taken back into the prison when they are more settled or the ...more
Stella Fouts
"Drive safe," he says. "I don't take his advice. I work out a way to prop one of my two cell phones on the steering wheel and type messages with my left hand while my right hand works the stick shift and fiddles with the radio for available weather reports. I toggle between my two work email accounts on one phone, looking for the latest updates, while I make calls on the other one." Really, Elizabeth Ford??? Endangering other people's lives in this way is supposed to indicate how busy/important ...more
Chris Burd
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
If you are at all interested in the troubling reality of America's correctional systems, this is a must read. If you aren't interested, I hope you might take the time to read and realize how incredibly disturbing the reality of our prison system is.

What is really interesting is that Dr. Ford does not place blame on any one place or one person. She sees the system for what it is - complex, yet so incredibly broken. She addresses only the mental health needs, where she is, quite frankly, the coun
Daniel Mala
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, insightful and close to home. Caring for mental health patients in the prison system presents challenges that likely surpass the more challenging patients I see in the ED. However I could relate to the changes and advances in psychiatric care over the same time period. This book illuminates the passion it takes to make a difference and the systemic failures that often times does little more then needlessly hinder progress in caring for mentally ill patients. There is also a great de ...more
This book reveals some of what happens in a prison psychiatric ward. It is episodic, so it does not have a narrative per se, and thus it skips along from episode to episode with minimal continuity. It isn’t meaty, but it does give a taste of the sense of panic and frustration experienced by staff and patients, and it certainly points out the strengths and weaknesses of a particular criminal justice system in a particular place: the hellish Rikers Island. Those who saw the HBO miniseries The Nigh ...more
Jul 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health, memoir, prison
Dr. Ford's memoir of her time in the Bellevue Hospital Psychiatric Prison Ward is interesting and informative. It is also pretty depressing. I wish Dr. Ford had included more about what pulled her to this type of psychiatry. The goal seems so bleak. Get the patients stabilized so they can return to jail on Rikers Island. Considering the amount of staffing (doctors, nurses, techs, aids, guards, police) this must be incredibly expensive to run which keeps the number of beds to a minimum. Only the ...more
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Obsessed with Tru...: Sometimes Amazing Things Happen 1 14 Apr 25, 2017 09:47AM  
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