The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town (Hardcover)
An intimate, heart wrenching portrait of one small hospital that reveals the magnitude of America’s health care crises.
“With his signature gut-punching prose, Alexander breaks our hearts as he opens our eyes to America’s deep-rooted sickness and despair by immersing us in the lives of a small town hospital and the people it serves. “ —Beth Macy, bestselling author of Dopesick
By following the struggle for survival of one small-town hospital, and the patients who walk, or are carried, through its doors, The Hospital takes readers into the world of the American medical industry in a way no book has done before. Americans are dying sooner, and living in poorer health. Alexander argues that no plan will solve America’s health crisis until the deeper causes of that crisis are addressed.
Bryan, Ohio's hospital, is losing money, making it vulnerable to big health systems seeking domination and Phil Ennen, CEO, has been fighting to preserve its independence. Meanwhile, Bryan, a town of 8,500 people in Ohio’s northwest corner, is still trying to recover from the Great Recession. As local leaders struggle to address the town’s problems, and the hospital fights for its life amid a rapidly consolidating medical and hospital industry, a 39-year-old diabetic literally fights for his limbs, and a 55-year-old contractor lies dying in the emergency room. With these and other stories, Alexander strips away the wonkiness of policy to reveal Americans’ struggle for health against a powerful system that’s stacked against them, but yet so fragile it blows apart when the pandemic hits. Culminating with COVID-19, this book offers a blueprint for how we created the crisis we're in.
About the Author
Brian Alexander has written about American culture for decades. A former contributing editor to Wired magazine, he has been recognized by Medill School of Journalism's John Bartlow Martin awards for public interest journalism, and by other organizations. He grew up in Lancaster, with a family history in the glass business. He lives in California. Brian is the author of Glass House.
"This wrenching account brilliantly diagnoses the flaws in America’s healthcare system. " —Publishers Weekly (Starred)
“Alexander’s scorching reportage provides a distressing, infuriating picture of health care delivery and highlights the heroic fight of a little hospital and humble hamlet to stay vital.” —Booklist (starred review)
"The Hospital is a heart-rending and unforgettable real-time journalistic deep dive. With the Affordable Care Act at the center of our national debate, I can't think of a more timely book. The doctors, nurses and medical technicians in these pages are front-line heroes. Highly recommended!" —Douglas Brinkley, Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University, author of The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast
"A brilliantly imaginative and creative way of telling the story of today's America and the roots of what ails it, through the travails of a small-town hospital. In The Hospital, Brian Alexander does again so well what he did in Glass House—telling the big story from the small place." —Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic
"The Hospital is a stunning achievement—closely observed, deeply compassionate and beautifully written. What 'The Wire' did for the Baltimore drug trade, The Hospital does for the business of healthcare in a struggling Rust Belt community... It's not just good—it's important." —Carl Elliott, MD, PhD, Professor, University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics
“Brian Alexander, a master storyteller, delivers an extraordinary tale about a community hospital fighting for its life in America’s heartland. He shows us why rural hospitals matter.” —Eric Eyre, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Death In Mud Lick
"A superb account of a small-town hospital whose first priority is delivering high-quality medical care...In this eye-opening investigative study, [Alexander] offers vivid portraits of a dozen individuals, including the hospital’s CEO, Phil Ennen, and readers will receive an expert education in his duties... A deeply insightful...portrait of America’s diseased health care system." —Kirkus (starred)
“In this clear-eyed biography of a community hospital, Brian Alexander offers a powerful indictment of the American health care system. The Hospital will break your heart.” —Andrea Pitzer, author of Icebound: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World
"The Hospital shows us the deep connections between health care, the economy, and people's lives. Brian Alexander masterfully weaves national history and events into the story of a small local hospital and its community. This book is devastating, gripping, and beautiful. " —Beatrix Hoffman, Professor of History, Northern Illinois University and author of Health Care for Some