Sometimes Amazing Things Happen

Sometimes Amazing Things Happen

Heartbreak and Hope on the Bellevue Hospital Psychiatric Prison Ward

eBook - 2017
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From the Executive Director of Mental Health for Correctional Services in New York City, comes a revelatory and deeply compassionate memoir that takes readers inside Bellevue, and brings to life the world—the system, the staff, and the haunting cases—that shaped one young psychiatrist as she learned how to doctor and how to love. Elizabeth Ford went through medical school unsure of where she belonged. It wasn't until she did her psychiatry rotation that she found her calling—to care for one of the most vulnerable populations of mentally ill people, the inmates of New York's jails, including Rikers Island, who are so sick that they are sent to the Bellevue Hospital Prison Ward for care. These men were broken, unloved, without resources or support, and very ill. They could be violent, unpredictable, but they could also be funny and tender and needy. Mostly, they were human and they awakened in Ford a boundless compassion. Her patients made her a great doctor and a better person and, as she treated these men, she learned about doctoring, about nurturing, about parenting, and about love. While Ford was a psychiatrist at Bellevue she becomes a wife and a mother. In her book she shares her struggles to balance her life and her work, to care for her children and her patients, and to maintain the empathy that is essential to her practice—all in the face of a jaded institution, an exhausting workload, and the deeply emotionally taxing nature of her work. Ford brings humor, grace, and humanity to the lives of the patients in her care and in beautifully rendered prose illuminates the inner workings (and failings) of our mental health system, our justice system, and the prison system.
Publisher: 2017
ISBN: 9781942872306
Branch Call Number: e-book
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Alternative Title: Library2Go


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Jun 23, 2017

I read this book as a result of an NPR interview with the author. The book takes us through the interest she developed for medicine after being allowed to view a corpse that was to be used for dissection in a friend's anatomy class. From there she decides that psychiatry is her field of interest. When she does a fellowship in Bellevue Hospital in the ward where the criminally insane are sent from Riker's Island prison to be treated, she develops a need to help these men who keep revolving in the prison system because of their mental problems. We see what her daily routine consists of, as well as the cost of trying to be a mother while dealing with high maintenance patients. The part of the book about rescuing her patients from Hurricane Sandy was particularly exciting. No one wanted to have her patients transferred to their facility. When they finally secured a place for them, they had to get them down from the 19th floor without an elevator. Leaving them there was untenable, because there was no running water, electricity in a limited area from a generator, and supplies had to be walked up nineteen floors. Quite a challenge.

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