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A Chicago Alderman's Father Is A Doctor With A Book Out

Ald. Brendan Reilly's father is the executive vice chair of medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital and the Gladys and the Roland Harriman Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

I learned this after Reilly tweeted the link this week to an excerpt from his father's new book in the Atlantic.

The excerpt, "How CPR Became So Popular," is from One Doctor: Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine. Let's take a look.


"What defines an excellent physician?" Dennis Rosen wrote for the Boston Globe in September.

"Compassion, dedication, respect, professional competence, humility. Those traits would make a good start. All of these qualities shine through the many stories that make up the bulk of Brendan Reilly's One Doctor.' This book is much more than merely a gripping memoir written by an expert storyteller who also happens to be one of the nation's most respected leaders of academic medicine. Spanning a 40-year career, the deftly woven tapestry of anecdotes and scholarly analysis also presents a troubling picture of the ways in which the practice of medicine has changed, and not always for the better insofar as patient care is concerned."


"However harsh a place, the emergency room at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where Brendan Reilly works, is at least fair," Sam Kean wrote for the Wall Street Journal.

"'[It's] one of the few truly egalitarian places in Manhattan,' he writes, 'a place where sniveling crack addicts from East Harlem and doubled-over undocumented Dominicans from Queens wait on gurneys alongside wide-eyed, terrified Park Avenue matrons.' Some of Dr. Reilly's patients there are worth millions, some are swindlers; some whine, some show heroic stoicism. All of them need Dr. Reilly's help, medical and otherwise, and he spends most of his powerful book, One Doctor, failing them as best he can.

"One Doctor rambles over the entire landscape of American medicine - from the perversities of health-care economics to who, exactly, empties the bedpans - and even the book's shortcomings have merit. Dr. Reilly's many, many anecdotes about patients, although vividly written, come almost too quickly sometimes, with a new character appearing practically every page. But this barrage of detail serves an artistic purpose: It captures the chaos that Dr. Reilly faces every day on his rounds.

"To his credit, the author doesn't censor or conceal what doctors actually think about. He describes how awful some patients smell: 'bodily effluvia mixed with medicinal vapors and bacterial decay.' He gives one elderly woman with brain damage the nickname 'Mona Lisa,' because her eyes, always open, seem to follow him around the room. He recalls the ribbing that one resident gets after a patient suffers a heart attack in the middle of a rectal exam. Most poignantly, Dr. Reilly describes the ugly desperation of much end-of-life care, and he sympathizes with those patients who simply want to die in peace."


Bloomberg audio: Reilly says everyone should have a primary care doctor who knows them well.


WNYC: The Leonard Lopate Show.

"Dr. Brendan Reilly discusses dealing with daunting challenges of caring his patients at a renowned teaching hospital while also caring for his 90-year-old parents He looks at the ways medicine has changed during his career, for both better and worse. His book One Doctor: Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine explores a fragmented, depersonal­ized, business-driven health-care system where real caring is hard to find."


The book does not appear to have been reviewed in Chicago.


Reilly was once chief of medicine at Cook County Hospital, he writes in his book, "the famous (and sometimes infamous) 'mother' of American public hospitals."


From the Sun-Times in 2007:

"[Ald.] Reilly was raised in Hanover, N.H., a self-described 'faculty brat.' His father taught medicine at Dartmouth College and was chief of medicine at a local hospital .

"His parents moved here when his father, Dr. Brendan Reilly, became chief of medicine at what is now Stroger Hospital of Cook County .

"The younger Reilly followed a few years later, a year after graduating from Hobart College in upstate New York in 1994."


Comments welcome.


Posted on November 8, 2013

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POLITICS - Wilmette Man Translated Nazis To Death. Heed His Lessons.
SPORTS - Tweeting Foles.

BOOKS - The Endurance Of The Rubik's Cube.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Charles E. Cheese Boo-tacular.

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