Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital
Erick Manheimer, MD
Grand Central Publishing – 2013
by – Sheri de Grom
Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital by Dr. Erick Manheimer is written with passion rooted in medicine anthropology, sociology, psychiatry and a broad range of politics and economics thrown in.
Doctor Manheimer guides the reader through the fabric of medicine practiced at Bellevue Hospital by way of weaving in the stories of twelve patients and the care each receives.
Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital is about more than Bellevue, it’s about people, families, caregivers, cultures, communities, desperation, despair, resilience and hope.
Other reviews of Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital that I’ve read criticize Dr. Manheimer for his detailed descriptions, but it’s those very descriptive narratives that allowed me to be at the doctor’s side as we moved through the hospital handling one crisis after another. Doctor Manheimer’s passion for people and his desire for each patient to receive the best care available are not often found on the administrative side of a hospital.
Doctor Manheimer was Bellevue’s Chief Medical Officer for fifteen years. He acknowledges the soaring cost of medical care, but has never once recommended withholding additional treatment if another more expensive but different modality might have better consequences for a patient.
The twelve patients we meet in Dr. Manheimer’s book include a fallen Wall Street titan, a gang member, victims of domestic violence and street crimes, organ donators, psychotic street people, abused and traumatized children who live a life of emotional chaos, the undocumented and the uninsured—the latter of which compromise a sizable portion of the people served at Bellevue.
Dr. Manheimer utilizes the twelve patients he discusses as springboards to address greater social ills. His book has an overt liberal agenda and I didn’t often agree with his suggested fixes to problems. However, his personal agenda didn’t keep me from being one-hundred percent joyous that he was willing to honestly open the doors of Bellevue in a way that no one has ever done before.
Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital will go on my ten best books I’ve read in 2013. Dr. Manheimer is not only a doctor, but he’s an excellent social commentator. He’s written a book that could be described as tough medicine.
The genre of Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital is memoir but it doesn’t read as a memoir by formula. The everyday tragedies existing at Bellevue are just as deadly as the swelling sea in The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger.