Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

My Photo
Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Friday, June 22, 2012

God’s Hotel
By Victoria Sweet
Riverhead Books, New York, 2012

This interesting book is a traditional doctor’s view of our hasty current practice of medicine, what she learned from medieval medicine and San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital. She set out a tall task for herself.

Dr. Sweet sees the practice of medicine as hasty and impersonal, driven by tests, machines and money. She contends a well-trained doctor should spend an hour with her patient and will discover very soon what is wrong with the patient. The vast cost of tests, machines, MRIs and evaluations of them could be saved by simply spending time with the patient. She calls it slow medicine

She works at Laguna Honda Hospital for indigent and long-term care patients. She gives great credit to the church, monasteries and nunneries who were first to take into their institutions sick people who needed medical care and especially those who were poor and destitute. The church’s care for the sick developed and changed over time. The almshouse is where people went when they had no money and were no longer able to take care of themselves.  In France these palaces were called Hotel-Dieu, God’s Hotel. Laguna Honda had been founded as an almshouse.

Sweet became fascinated with Hildegard of Bingen, a medieval nun who was a healer using medicine, herbs and drugs and had a whole theory of how the body and nature all hung together. Hildegard‘s way of doing medicine held for many generations until the discoveries of science and modern medicine changed healing. Dr. Sweet got a doctorate in the History of Medicine, specializing in Hildegard’s theories and practices.

Her writing on love is fascinating. The medieval sense of charity is “a personal action evoked by dearness and contributes to the well-being of its giver as well as receiver.” Caring for the sick poor was a spiritual good for the giver. That view inspired people to build hospitals for the sick poor.  Many of us feel pain at the undeserved suffering of others. That feeling is why Laguna Honda got built in the first place and why it survives.

This book’s real treasures are the remarkable stories Dr. Sweet tells about her patients at LGH. She found wisdom, splendor, humor and intelligence among the poorest, most deranged, filthy human beings who were her patients. She is generous in her praise of the hard-working underpaid nurses, orderlies and janitors who are all part of what makes healing happen at Laguna Honda Hospital.

She points out that healing happens in community not in isolation. She approves of open wards where patients congregate, chat and relate to each other. She opposes small rooms, pods and “neighborhoods” which now take places in houses of healing.

She spends a large part of the book describing the attempts to close, rebuild and redesign Laguna Honda.

She describes her pilgrimage to St. James of Campostela in Spain as a time of change, discipline and grounding for Sweet. Her time, thinking and desire to change and improve ways of healing are Dr. Sweet’s pilgrimage.

This is a valuable book that opens our minds to looking at healing, medicine and hospitals. We see the stories of amazing human beings made whole by slow medicine and by new ways of looking at our system of medicine.

Robert Warren Cromey


Anonymous Fred Fenton said...

Thank you for that review, Robert. It sounds like a fascinating book. My wife and I have concluded that whereas we have the finest medical staff and procedures available to us in the Bay Area, we have precious little time with area doctors. They all seem to have too-large practices and to have gotten into bad habits when it comes to time spent with their patients. My parents, both M.D.'s of an earlier generation, got to know their patients well, made house calls, and were more interested in healing than in making a big income. They never used a bill collector and treated many patients for free. Yet they lived well and were dearly loved. They also were people of faith.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had more interest in studying this area because it gave me a chance to study an array of research materials that would enhance my understanding of law., vpn zyxel usg 100. And you can also try dresses made by more than two kinds of materials. Today, talented employees are hot items on the global labour market, thus, employers are forced to work more hard to be able to retain, motivate and develop good employees. vpn uf law. The beauty of this kind of structure is that it easily defined the roles and responsibilities of each worker. free downloads for antivirus

3:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is an excellent variety of sports sunglasses available to include; baseball sports sunglasses; cycling sports sunglasses; driving sun glasses; fishing sports sunglasses (see the fish before the fish see you); glacier sports sunglasses; golf sports sunglasses; motorcycle sun glasses; polarized ski goggles; tennis sports sunglasses and sports sunglasses for water sports. The island is real treat., von zipper fulton video. Smoking will hinder the work of cells in bone growth and increase the risk of osteoporosis. sonicwall site vpn

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone you see on the set contributed to making you look good and therefore contributed to the success of your event., how to make a counter strike 1.6 server. However, posting online classified ads is not a guarantee for success. Take the orchid out of the pot carefully, doing as little harm to the orchid and its roots as possible. n95 infrared remote. Laptop stands are almost handy as they are light weight and needs very less space. remote desktop to a windows 2000 pc

3:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you have a newborn, you'll find that baby's sleeping patterns can be difficult to get used to., big cum load. What the consumer really cares for is the cost value relationship. Soccer balls provided more of a consistent flight and bounce. what is the best proxy server to use. A stirrup leather could break but you should not worry; you may be able to ride home gently and quietly without it. alice adsl email

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even if you have limited financial resources, you should be able to find a number of exercise equipment pieces that are within your budget. netscape server url

11:46 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home