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In Sickness and in Wealth

American Hospitals in the Twentieth Century

Rosemary Stevens

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American hospitals are unique: a combination of public and private institutions that are at once charities and businesses, social welfare institutions and icons of U.S. science, wealth, and technical achievement. In Sickness and in Wealth helps us understand this huge and often contradictory "industry" and shows that throughout this century the voluntary not-for-profit hospitals have been profit-maximizing enterprises, even though they have viewed themselves as charities serving the community. Although our hospitals have provided the most advanced medical care for acutely sick and curable…

American hospitals are unique: a combination of public and private institutions that are at once charities and businesses, social welfare institutions and icons of U.S. science, wealth, and technical achievement. In Sickness and in Wealth helps us understand this huge and often contradictory "industry" and shows that throughout this century the voluntary not-for-profit hospitals have been profit-maximizing enterprises, even though they have viewed themselves as charities serving the community. Although our hospitals have provided the most advanced medical care for acutely sick and curable patients, they have been much less successful in meeting the needs of the chronically ill and the socially disadvantaged. That, Stevens concludes, is the next urgent task of social policy.

Reviews

Reviews

Stevens brilliantly views the hospital as a prism of the values and mores of society... She sees the stratification of the hospital population into private, semi-private, and charity patients as a manifestation of the social stratifications of American society.

This book is beautifully written... and is must reading for anyone involved in the current debate on health policy. It will also make delightful reading for those who merely wish to view the shifting social and economic climate in modern America, as seen from the perspective of the hospital.

For me, personally, the book constituted an invitation to rethink the relationship—warts and all—among the benevolent, charitable, and business missions of the hospital, while at the same time disabusing me of my inclination to cite history to support or defend a view I might otherwise have preferred to hold.

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Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
472
ISBN
9780801860492
Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Rosemary Stevens, Ph.D.

Rosemary Stevens is professor emeritus of the history and sociology and science at the University of Pennsylvania and the De Witt Wallace Distinguished Scholar in Social Medicine and Public Policy at Weill Cornell Medical College. She is the author of In Sickness and in Wealth: American Hospitals in the Twentieth Century and The Public-Private Health Care State: Essays on the History of American...