Virtual Event: Dr. Ricardo Nuila
The People's Hospital:
Hope and Peril in American Medicine
in conversation with FRANCESCA MARI
April 5, 2023
7:00 PM ET
Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store welcomes Dr. RICARDO NUILA—director of the Humanities Expression and Arts Lab at Baylor College of Arts—for a discussion of his new book The People's Hospital: Hope and Peril in American Medicine. He will be joined in conversation by independent journalist and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine FRANCESCA MARI.
Contribute to Support Harvard Book Store
While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $5 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of The People's Hospital on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
About The People's Hospital
Where does one go without health insurance, when turned away by hospitals, clinics, and doctors? In The People’s Hospital, physician Ricardo Nuila’s stunning debut, we follow the lives of five uninsured Houstonians as their struggle for survival leads them to a hospital where insurance comes second to genuine care.
First, we meet Stephen, the restaurant franchise manager who signed up for his company’s lowest priced plan, only to find himself facing insurmountable costs after a cancer diagnosis. Then Christian—a young college student and retail worker who can’t seem to get an accurate diagnosis, let alone treatment, for his debilitating knee pain. Geronimo, thirty-six years old, has liver failure, but his meager disability check disqualifies him for Medicaid—and puts a life-saving transplant just out of reach. Roxana, who’s lived in the community without a visa for more than two decades, suffers from complications related to her cancer treatment. And finally, there’s Ebonie, a young mother whose high-risk pregnancy endangers her life. Whether due to immigration status, income, or the vagaries of state Medicaid law, all five are denied access to care. For all five, this exclusion could prove life-threatening.
Each patient eventually lands at Ben Taub, the county hospital where Dr. Nuila has worked for over a decade. Nuila delves with empathy into the experiences of his patients, braiding their dramas into a singular narrative that contradicts the established idea that the only way to receive good healthcare is with good insurance. As readers follow the movingly rendered twists and turns in each patient’s story, it’s impossible to deny that our system is broken—and that Ben Taub’s innovative model, which emphasizes people over payments, could help light the path forward.
Praise for The People's Hospital
"A rare and unforgettable work, The People’s Hospital takes us deep into the lives of some of America’s poorest patients. Following in the tradition of Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy and Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, Nuila makes a revelatory passage through a system that is both flawed and primed for reform." —Andrea Elliott, author of Invisible Child
“Like a handful of other storied public hospitals in America, Ben Taub manages to do the impossible: to provide world class care for the uninsured and indigent; train generations of physicians; pioneer medical breakthroughs; and do it at a fraction of the cost of fancier places. Nuila’s lyrical and riveting prose lays bare the dysfunctional, expensive quagmire that passes for our health care system. His stories of patients and those who care for them captures the miracle that is Ben Taub. The People’s Hospital is a tour de force. " —Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone.
"Ricardo Nuila's The People's Hospital is a tour de force. It is a call to action wrapped in powerful storytelling, a book that will prick the consciences of private practitioners while alerting the American public to the care they deserve—and rarely receive." —Mimi Swartz, author of Ticker
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