“David Ansell has done it. He has captured the County story vividly and comprehensively. Given the dire straits of our public hospitals—underfunding, closures, uninsured patients—this fine book could be a dirge or a celebration. [I]t is an authentic and accurate description of a most consequential chapter in our country’s history, and a reflection on our nation’s failure to make equal access to health care a right for all.”—from the introduction by Quentin Young, M.D.
"David Ansell has given us a classic of battlefield medicine, full of guts and blood and passion. I had to keep reminding myself that it's not set in an actual war, but in one of America's legendary public hospitals, where exhausted health workers pit themselves daily against the terrible damage inflicted by poverty.” – Barbara Ehrenreich, author, Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America, This Land Is Their Land
“David Ansell’s [book] is a biopsy of our national health care conundrum. It is a story that needs to be read and understood by all of us.” – Fitzhugh Mullan, MD, Murdock Head Professor of Medicine and Health Policy, The George Washington University. Author, White Coat, Clenched Fist: The Political Education of an American Physician.
“For nearly two decades, David Ansell with grace, humor and gumption served on the front lines, navigating a public hospital in disrepair and a population of patients debilitated by poverty and illness. Ansell’s County is a poignant, instructive memoir, a sobering journey where idealism takes on the politics of race and poverty.” Alex Kotlowitz, author and journalist: There Are No Children Here
"In 1978, David Ansell and four fellow med-school grads loaded a U-Haul with their belongings and drove from Syracuse, New York, to Chicago—more specifically, to Cook County Hospital. At a time when many other medical centers still refused to admit black patients, County was—like home in Robert Frost's "The Death of the Hired Man"—the "place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." But, Ansell says, the lobby at County "could have been mistaken for a Calcutta bus station." ,,, "We were practicing Third World Medicine in Chicago," he writes. And indeed, as he readily admits, he killed his share of patients. But in 17 years at County, Ansell also pioneered the practice of primary care, breast cancer screening, ... while advocating for universal health care and agitating against the inequities that continue to contribute to higher mortality rates among African-Americans and other minorities. " —Kate Schmidt Chicago Reader Spring Books Issue, Reviewed on April 21, 2011
Ansell, David A., M.D. County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago's Public Hospital. Academy Chicago. 2011. c.256p. photogs. bibliog. ISBN 9780897336208. $29.95. HEALTH
Ansell (chief medical officer, Rush Univ. Medical Ctr.) spent his medical residency and much of his early professional career at Cook County Hospital, historically Chicago's public hospital for low-income and uninsured patients. He weaves strands of memoir and policy analysis into a heartfelt account of the hospital's challenges, failures, and successes over three decades, from the Civil Rights Movement to the AIDS crisis, in the process educating and moving the reader to both anger and compassion. His gift for describing the connections between social forces and medical care, coupled with the vivid patient stories interspersed with trenchant critiques of the politics of health care, makes this work stand out.
Verdict Ansell skillfully humanizes questions of health-care policy by describing real-life scenarios. Those who enjoyed such books as Richard Selzer's Letters to a Young Doctor will find this book an education for both the mind and the heart.—A.W. Klink, Duke Univ., NC