The People's Hospital: Hope and Peril in American Medicine

Physician Ricardo Nuila has spent most of his career practicing at Ben Taub, an unusual public hospital in Houston, Tex. Nuila's incisive, thoughtful first book, The People's Hospital, takes readers into the lives of his patients and explores the ways the American medical system--which he calls "Medicine Inc."--fails them.

Nuila recounts his journey as a doctor, from spending time at his father's OB-GYN clinic to medical school and his residency at Ben Taub. He also explains, clearly and thoughtfully, the history and current state of health insurance in the U.S. and how the present system (set up to focus on profit rather than people) often excludes low- and middle-income patients who need consistent, personalized care. Folded into Nuila's narrative are the stories of five patients: Stephen, Ebonie, Roxana, Geronimo and Christian. Each of them landed at Ben Taub after facing acute or chronic medical problems and hitting the limits of their health insurance, the American medical system or both. Nuila details their physical and emotional struggles, their attempts to find care in other places (including a high-end clinic in Mexico) and the efforts of the Ben Taub staff to continue providing them with care. A keen observer of his patients' lives, Nuila also shares his struggles with frustration and burnout, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Compassionate, detailed, accessible (and yes, occasionally infuriating), Nuila's book is a wise and timely look at the failures of American medicine and a hopeful glimpse of a different way forward. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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