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New Orleans' Charity Hospital: A Story of Physicians, Politics, and Poverty

John C. Burnham, PhD
JAMA. 1994;271(19):1547. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510430103048.
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John Salvaggio, a longtime staff member, has written a history of Charity Hospital of New Orleans, using many rich primary sources and a good deal of frankness.

"Charity" is no ordinary hospital. It is the largest hospital under one roof in the country and the oldest, since it was founded 15 years before the Pennsylvania Hospital. It has therefore been a significant institution. Yet the history that Salvaggio has reconstructed also shows how many of the major trends elucidated in recent general works on American hospitals worked out in practice in one particular and colorful setting.

About half the book deals with the period since 1945, when this historic municipal institution sought to survive in a time of rapid social and medical changes. The first half of the book, covering about 200 years, traces what happened after Jean Louis, a shipbuilder, willed his estate to found a hospital to look


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