Sometimes Amazing Things Happen

Ford, Elizabeth

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Memoir

Annotated by:
Redel-Traub, MD, Gabriel
  • Date of entry: Jun-20-2017


In Dr. Elizabeth Ford’s Sometimes Amazing Things Happen, Ford recounts her time spent on the Bellevue Hospital Prison Ward. The memoir is as much about her own personal growth as it is about the daunting, yet crucial care she provides to one of the country’s most vulnerable populations, prison inmates from Riker’s Island. Dr. Ford goes from being a nervous intern on her first day working in the ward to a confident—if not emotionally drained—director of the forensic pathology service all the while trying to balance her family life as a wife and mother. Dr. Ford’s patient encounters with the inmates all center around one crucial thing: trust. In many of her conversations, Dr. Ford works tirelessly to convince her patients, many of whom had suffered abuse or neglect in their younger life, that she is on their team. This process is, more often than not, an uphill battle. Nonetheless, it is an endeavor we see Dr. Ford embark on repeatedly throughout the memoir. For as she says, “My job is to try to look past [what they’ve done] and ... to care for them, to be curious about them and to be non-judgmental. It is a daily struggle, but one that I have found over the years [to be] incredibly rewarding."


Dr. Ford’s honesty—exposing her unfiltered emotional reactions and her personal growth through her time working in the Bellevue Hospital Prison Ward—is one of the strengths of Sometimes Amazing Things Happen. Ford’s vignettes on her patient encounters are thrilling: full of grace, humanity, humor and danger. Her insights  on the jaded systems within which she works (both hospital and prison-industrial) is equally eye-opening. At times, the memoir is a difficult read, hope and happy endings are few and far between. Yet, Dr. Ford perseveres: sometimes amazing things happen.


Regan Arts

Place Published

New York



Page Count