Growing up in New Orleans, I often drove past Hotel Dieu and thought it was a funny name for a hospital. I never really knew much about their patient population... until I read the book God's Hotel by Dr. Victoria Sweet. It is the story of the transition (and struggles) of a former almshouse (caring for those who had no where else to go) and the impact of modern medicine and administrators.
Laguna Honda Hospital is where Dr. Sweet practiced "slow medicine" - the art of observing patients and relying on the basics to come to the right diagnosis. I found several shared experiences with Dr. Sweet, even though we have never met. We experienced, at the same time, the arrival of managed care and frustrations associated with the closure of state mental hospitals without the promised community supports for this challenging and complex population. In addition, I have my own, but similar, stories of uncovering context or one's environment to understand challenges or barriers.
I learned that I am a "slow administrator" taking the time to arrive at the right decisions and in the process really saving costs, improving care and creating expanded capacity. I also appreciated learning about Hildigard of Bingen and the lessons we can still learn from early medicine and her "gardening" approach.
If you appreciate the history and/or sociology of medicine and healthcare systems you will enjoy this book.