ONE CHILDREN'S PLACE: A Profile of Pediatric Medicine by Lee Gutkind

ONE CHILDREN'S PLACE: A Profile of Pediatric Medicine

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The success of TV hospital dramas signals widespread, possibly morbid curiosity about sickness, death, and why doctors are different from thee and me. Based on two years of observing and interviewing, Gutkind's book about Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh--One Children's Place is the hospital's address--also stirs that curiosity. The short chapters, however--while reminiscent of soap opera in their episodic style--are distinguished by their straightforward, respectful content. Children's Hospital is one of the largest in the country--and the first in the impact of some of its programs, including organ transplantation. Gutkind (Many Sleepness Nights: The World of Organ Transplantation 1988, etc.) introduces all the actors in the drama of pediatric medicine--the children suffering from accident, disease, and abuse; the surgeons so focused on remedying the ills that they neglect or ignore the traumatized families; the nurses and support staff who come to be advocates for the children as something other than ""little adults."" Here are interviews with the gruff dean of transplant surgery, Thomas Starzl; with the astute group of ""pediatricians' pediatricians"" who attract interns and residents from all over the country to this hospital; with pumped-up EMS technicians, frustrated social-workers, the designer who brought cheerful pink dinosaurs to the corridor walls, obsessed or merely concerned mothers and fathers, and b rave and resilient patients. Although melodrama is inherent in the subject, Gutkind skirts it, thereby occasionally flattening the impact of the story. Best are the portraits of the doctors and nurses, sometimes heroes, sometimes selfish and spoiled--not gods, but human.

Pub Date: July 27th, 1990
Publisher: Grove Weidenfeld