StudioTulsa
1:06 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

"A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine" (Encore presentation.)

(Please note: This program originally aired earlier this year.) Our guest on ST is Dr. Victoria Sweet, an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and a prize-winning historian. Dr. Sweet practiced medicine for twenty years at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco --- and she's just published a book about this remarkable facility, and about her time there, and, indeed, about the state of health care in America today. This book is called "God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine." As we read of this book (and of this place) at Dr. Sweet's personal website: "San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital is the last almshouse in the country, a descendant of the Hôtel-Dieu (or Hotel of God) 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 [at Laguna Honda]. Dr. Sweet ended up there herself, as a physician. And though she came for only a two-month stay, she remained for twenty years. At Laguna Honda, lower-tech but human-paced, Dr. Sweet had the chance to practice a kind of 'slow medicine' that has almost vanished. Gradually, the place and its patients transformed the way she understood the body. Alongside the modern view of the body as a machine to be fixed, her patients evoked an older notion, of the body as a garden to be tended. 'God's Hotel' tells their stories, and the story of the hospital, which...revealed its truths about the cost and value of caring for body and soul." And moreover, as a critic for Booklist has noted of Dr. Sweet's book: "[This is] a watershed book that ambushes and transforms you with its visionary middle way between the irreplaceable skills of doctors, holistic medicine, and twenty-first century technology. Vital, exquisitely written, and spectacularly multi-dimensional."

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