Life, Death and Dollars in a Small American City
By Brian Alexander
The occupation of the disease is perverted. In many instances, medical interventions are ineffective band-aids. Other factors, such as where you stand in the social, racial and economic Peking Order – and which zip code you were born in – determine far more about your health. As Bertolt Brecht said, “Worker’s speech for a doctor”:
When we are sick we listen
You are the one who will fix us.
When we come to you
Our rags are torn
And you tap around our naked bodies.
As the cause of our disease
We will have a look on our rags
Tell more. This is what wears
Our bodies and our clothes.
In “The Hospital: Life, Death, and Else in a Small American Town”, Brian Alexander shares this reality as a struggling rural hospital, serving his Bryan, Ohio community as a “Band-Aid Station” Know. While the non-profit hospital fights to remain solvent and independent, each day brings new gut-wrecking stories. From the stress-filled strategic planning meetings of the C-suite on the bed to life-and-death moments, Alexander Nimble and recreationally translates the Byzantine world of American health care with the real people you care about.
Reporting for a period of two years, which ended only last August, Alexander walked into the examination room, the patients’ homes and the pathology lab, and rode with the ambulance crew. He provides an in-depth investigative account showing the staff of nurses, doctors, technicians and administrators trying to keep Northwest Ohio patients alive.
You will root for the CEO of the hospital, who is tipping around the minefields, and for the immigrant doctors who are clearly reluctant in the Trump country to even do their best. But the work is terrible and life is almost impossible to save. In sensitive illustrations, Alexander shares how patients become ill because care is delayed, spirals spiral out of control, and all too often patients die of preventable deaths. The whole mess is prone to the malaise of despair. Everyone is drowning in this story.
As Brecht took over in 1938, what often makes patients sick are conditions that we do not see – or choose not to see. Alexander identified them with surgical precision, underlying pathogens of underlying poverty, and widening of income inequality. Add to systemic racism, childhood trauma and unequal access to healthy food, healthy air and high quality health care, and you have a perfect storm.