The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town

St. Martin’s. Mar. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781250237354. $28.99. SOC SCI
Small nonprofit hospitals in the United States faced increasing difficulties even before the COVID-19 pandemic upended economic realities for businesses of all kinds. With intimate access to a small nonprofit hospital in the community of Bryan, OH, Alexander (Glass House) spent fall 2018 through summer 2020 using it as a template for a study of health care in the U.S., the forces transforming it, and the real impact it has on people. The hospital CEO’s story becomes the linchpin for the broader view, as he deals with financial and structural issues, personnel, government at all levels, local needs and wants, and the corporatization of hospitals. Alexander also spends time with health care workers, leaders of other hospitals, and many people in the surrounding community, relating their struggles to the larger picture. His clear conclusion is that the increasing disparity in health care is inextricably linked to the income and social disparities that the pandemic has made all too clear.
VERDICT The time Alexander spent embedded in the community gives continuity and depth to the stories of the individuals he connected with and puts a human face on broader issues of social inequality. This expertly reported account will resonate and find a wide audience.
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