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The People's Hospital
Hope and Peril in American Medicine
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About The Book
Where does one go without health insurance, when turned away by hospitals, clinics, and doctors? In The People’s Hospital, physician Ricardo Nuila’s stunning debut, we follow the lives of five uninsured Houstonians as their struggle for survival leads them to a hospital where insurance comes second to genuine care.
First, we meet Stephen, the restaurant franchise manager who signed up for his company’s lowest priced plan, only to find himself facing insurmountable costs after a cancer diagnosis. Then Christian—a young college student and retail worker who can’t seem to get an accurate diagnosis, let alone treatment, for his debilitating knee pain. Geronimo, thirty-six years old, has liver failure, but his meager disability check disqualifies him for Medicaid—and puts a life-saving transplant just out of reach. Roxana, who’s lived in the community without a visa for more than two decades, suffers from complications related to her cancer treatment. And finally, there’s Ebonie, a young mother whose high-risk pregnancy endangers her life. Whether due to immigration status, income, or the vagaries of state Medicaid law, all five are denied access to care. For all five, this exclusion could prove life-threatening.
Each patient eventually lands at Ben Taub, the county hospital where Dr. Nuila has worked for over a decade. Nuila delves with empathy into the experiences of his patients, braiding their dramas into a singular narrative that contradicts the established idea that the only way to receive good healthcare is with good insurance. As readers follow the movingly rendered twists and turns in each patient’s story, it’s impossible to deny that our system is broken—and that Ben Taub’s innovative model, which emphasizes people over payments, could help light the path forward.
About The Reader
Dr. Ricardo Nuila is a writer, teacher, and practicing doctor. He is an associate professor of medicine, medical ethics, and health policy at Baylor College of Medicine, where he directs the Humanities Expression and Arts Lab [HEAL] program.
Why We Love It
“Dr. Ricardo Nuila has given us a character-driven, intimate story about the Harris Health System and Ben Taub Hospital, in Houston, Texas, and those the hospital serves. Through patient stories—patients who are un- or underinsured—readers learn how we got to this point, in which we deny access to care to over 26 million Americans. Nuila follows five patients, at moments of acute medical crisis, as they try to save their own lives without the golden ticket of health insurance. One of the few places that’s possible: a public, safety-net hospital like Ben Taub. Readers will be moved and angered and inspired by this compassionate and graceful book—and will question the current state of affairs, whether insured or uninsured.”
—Kathy B., VP, Editorial Director, on The People’s Hospital
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (March 14, 2023)
- Runtime: 10 hours and 53 minutes
- ISBN13: 9781797151915
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