Most of the group are reunited in this sequel to the 1978
blockbuster, The House of God: narrator Dr. Roy Basch and his girlfriend
(now wife) Berry, former fellow interns (Eat My Dust Eddie, Hyper Hooper, the
Runt, Chuck), surgeon Gath, the two articulate police officers (Gilheeny and
Quick), and the Fat Man (a brilliant, larger-than-life former teaching resident).
As interns, Basch and his comrades were a crazy, exhausted, cynical crew just
trying to survive their brutal internship. Years later, the midlife doctors
have changed but remain emotionally scarred.
The Fat Man (“Fats”), now a wealthy California internist
who is beginning a biotech company targeting memory restoration, is recruited
to reestablish the fortunes – financial and prestige – of Man’s Best Hospital
which has slipped to 4th place in the annual hospital rankings. He
calls on his former protégés to assist him in an honorable mission, “To put the
human back in health care” (p34). Fats enlists other physicians (Drs. Naidoo
and Humbo) along with a promising medical student (Mo Ahern) to staff his new
Future of Medicine Clinic (FMC), an oasis of empathic medical care that strives
to be with the patient.
Every great story needs a villain. Here the main bad guys
are hospital president Jared Krashinsky, evil senior resident Jack Rowk Junior,
and CEO of the BUDDIES hospital conglomerate Pat Flambeau. The electronic
medical records system dubbed HEAL is a major antagonist, and the FMC docs wage
war against it and the “screens.”
Poor Roy Basch works long hours, deals with family
problems, has trouble paying bills, and experiences health issues (a bout of
atrial fibrillation, a grand mal seizure, and alcohol use). Fats has warned of
a “tipping point when medical care could go one way or another, either toward
humane care or toward money and screens” (p8). Alas, the computers and cash
appear victorious. A major character is killed. Many of the doctors working in
the FMC including Basch leave the clinic. And fittingly, Man’s Best Hospital
plummets in the latest rankings from 4th to 19th place.
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