Saturday, May 11, 2013

Book Recommendation: God's Hotel by Victoria Sweet, M.D., Ph.D.

     I haven't posted much lately because, among other things, I've been enchanted by this book!  Jan got it for her birthday last month from a dear friend who is a nurse in Sacramento; she read it almost nonstop and insisted that I read it, too!
     Here is the book's description from Amazon:

     San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital is the last almshouse in the country, a descendant of the Hôtel-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, relatively low-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 the body and the soul.

     Dr. Sweet earned her Ph.D. is social medicine by studying the pre-modern medicine of Hildegaard on Bingen, which she now incorporates in her practice. It is a wonderful book!

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