Patient by Patient – review of “Medicine in Translation”

 Jewish Book Council

Often lost in rancorous public debates is the impact proposed social changes will have on individuals. The health care reform bill recently passed by Congress is one such case. Billions of dollars may be saved and millions of people will have health insurance. But what can happen to a specific, living, breathing individual? Danielle Ofri’s latest offering, Medicine in Translation, may shed some light on this issue.

This book tells the story, patient by patient, of what occurs in a big city public hospital. We meet patients of various cultures, many of whom don’t speak English, a few of whom have survived torture, and all of whom have a compelling story. The common thread in these vignettes is that each patient is different and will be touched differently by changes in the health care system. Whether or not your political views become changed or crystallized from reading this book, you can’t help but be moved by these patients’ experiences. Ofri masterfully weaves their stories into a tapestry of memoir and medicine, and in so doing honors the Jewish mitzvah to “heal the sick.”

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