County is the amazing tale of one of America's oldest and most unusual urban public hospitals. From its inception as a "Poor House" dispensing free medical care to indigents, Chicago's Cook County Hospital has been both a renowned teaching hospital and the healthcare provider of last resort for the city's uninsured. County covers more than thirty years of its history, beginning in the late 1970s when the author began his internship, to the "Final Rounds" when hundreds of former trainees gathered to bid the enormous iconic Victorian hospital building an emotional farewell when it was closed to make way for a new facility.
Ansell writes of the hundreds of doctors who went through the rigorous training process with him, sharing his vision of saving the world and of resurrecting a hospital in critical condition. County is about people, from Ansell's mentors, including the legendary Quentin Young, to the multitude of patients whom he and County's medical staff labored to diagnose and heal. It is a story about politics, from contentious union strikes to battles against "patient dumping", and public health, depicting the AIDS crisis and the opening of County's HIV/AIDS clinic, the first in the city.
Finally, it is about an idealistic young man's medical education in urban America, a coming-of-age story set against a backdrop of race, segregation and poverty.
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