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From The CriticsReviewer: Ralph D. Arcari, Ph.D.(University of Connecticut Health Center)
Description: The authors review the development of medical social work through their experience with this profession at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York and that institution's background in social services over the last century. Opening and closing chapters deal in general terms with historical antecedents and the future for the interaction between social services and medicine.
Purpose: The authors have decided to introduce the development of social work services and medicine in one academic medical center in reflecting on the gains and losses." (pp. 5-6) This work is, in effect, a case study in how the vicissitudes of the American healthcare delivery system have affected social services in a hospital and academic health center over time. The current lamentable state of access to and costs for U.S. medical care are yet again documented, this time from a social services point of view with a historical perspective.
Audience: The book is written for general readers to provide a higher profile to the area of social work that specializes in patient care. The authors have collaborated on or separately written twenty-two books in their field.
Features: The development and management of social services at Mount Sinai Hospital is delineated with details on the role of women, advisory committees, transition to an academic health center, emergence of a department of community medicine, research initiatives, and program implementation with medical professionals and peers on an interdepartmental and international level. Personal recollections of colleagues document changes. Chapter references are relevant and extensive. No medical social services data such as numbers of cases over time, clients by specialty, or negative outcomes are provided either in the narrative or in tabular format.
Assessment: There is an uneven quality to the chapters in this book. Those dealing with the place of social work in a community medicine department and the effects of federal and state health policies on patients requiring social services would engage an academic reader. The chapters on Mount Sinai staff, their writings and administrative organization in the period 1920 to 1950 would seem pertinent to a Mount Sinai archivist.