At Laguna Honda, lower-tech but human-paced, Dr. Sweet had the chance to practice a kind of “slow medicine” that has almost vanished. Gradually, the place and its patients transformed the way she understood the body. Alongside the modern view of the body as a machine to be fixed, her patients evoked an older notion, of the body as a garden to be tended. God’s Hotel tells their stories, and the story of the hospital, which — as efficiency experts, politicians, and architects descended, determined to turn it into a modern “health care facility” — revealed its truths about the cost and value of caring for body and soul.
In God’s Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine Dr. Sweet lays out her evidence—in stories of her patients and her hospital—for some new ideas about medicine and healthcare in this country. In trying to get control of healthcare costs by emphasizing “efficiency,” we’ve headed down a wrong path. Medicine works best—that is, arrives at the right diagnosis and the right treatment for the least cost—when the doctor has enough time to do a good job, and pays attention not only to the patient but to what’s around the patient.
Dr. Sweet is an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and a prize-winning historian with a Ph.D. in history. She practiced medicine for twenty years at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, where she began writing.
“This is a remarkable, poignant portrait of a committed physician on a quest to understand the heart, as well as the art, of medicine.” - Library Journal
“Sweet’s watershed book ambushes and transforms you with its visionary middle way between the irreplaceable skills of doctors and the benefits of holistic medical knowledge and twenty-first-century technology and standards.” - Booklist
“The author’s compelling argument for Laguna Honda’s philosophy of ‘slow medicine’ will make readers contemplate if perhaps the body should be viewed more as a garden to be tended rather than a machine to be fixed.” Kirkus Review