A garden to tend

I recently read Dr. Victoria Sweet’s 2012 recounting of her twenty years at San Francisco’s venerable Laguna Honda rehabilitation center, recently transformed from almshouse (the last one in America) to hospital.

Her book is entitled God’s Hotel, and subtitled, “A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine”.

The New York Times entitled its review, A Hospital That Gave Its Patients Time to Heal.

It’s a fascinating concept, rare in today’s healthcare system in which the body is an engine to repair… As quickly as possible, and at the lowest cost.

Dr. Sweet suggests that — just as an almhouse is an old and alas discredited model — an old metaphor, similarly worthy of revival, is of the body as a garden to tend. She calls it slow medicine.

Almshouses and gardens to be lovingly and patiently tended… Dr. Sweet gives us pause.


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