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Australian-born author Marion A. Stahl, now living near Washington DC, has 30 years of experience in the healthcare sector as a medical writer. She is also the author of `A Modern Salem Witch Trial’, `Anita’, `Anita’s Piano: A Witness to History’ and `Hope and Perseverance’. She has received many honors for her work in the field of medicine. And if committing the words of a modern day WW II survivor of heroic experiences into the form of a memoir about the indomitable core of the human soul can be considered both medical as well as historical novel material, then Stahl has reached a zenith.

As is Marion’s bent she has written a new book to investigate the multiple facets of the uncertain status of American Medicine. Few writers have the ability to present a case for the need for change as well as Marion’s realistic, carefully considered from all angles stance. She brings not only her history into play but instead of creating tropes to identify as characters she instead refers to well-considered life situations. The result: a profoundly moving book that holds a magnifying glass to medicine in this country.

`My husband Paul, known as `Doc Fournier’ in town, is busy with a successful family medical practice. He works very long hours and sees up to forty patients a day. His high demand is due to a shortage of general medical practitioners. I am the Editor of the Harvard Health Newsletter.’ And so we know our fictional character’s background and her personal story of encountering long waits in emergency rooms, similar stories from her friends that opens her investigation of the paucity of providers, and now outright denial of medical treatments. She brings the reader `on a mystery hunt of what I have learned so far. The topic, our present health care will be the subject of this novel. I can think a many great scenes for this endeavor. My intentions are not to create fear of hospitals or doctors. I would like to paint a better understanding by bringing readers to the back room of these offices. Perhaps it could bring some light as to why we have a shortage of physicians and why we have lost so many valuable ones.’

As a well written example she relates the practice and life of Dr. Helene Quaile whose devotion to the well-being and care and health of her patients gets mired down in the modus operandi of manipulators, the corruption of payers such as insurance companies, the plethora of lawyers and the growing paucity of physicians who have become disenchanted with the concept of healing with the increasing encroachment of technical instrumentation both for treatment of disease and the charging of fees for patients who at times fall into the category of facilitators. `Our reimbursement system rewards those who perform “procedures,” but not physician’s time taking a sound history that might save on cost of tests, In other words; one is paid more for looking in a patient’s rectum as in performing sigmoidoscopies and colonoscopies, and almost none for speaking to them, listening to their symptoms and making a wise decision of whether to send them for procedures.’ `I was worried about what was happening in the medical field. The news was dominated by stories of problems with physicians and roadblocks in healthcare, but none of them made sense to me. Doctors’ fees accounted for less than a fourth of our total health care costs, and yet the media pointed fingers at them as if they were felons who overcharged for their services. How would lower doctor’s fees solve high health care costs? Our country appeared more and more legalistic and bureaucratic, and the future of the entire field seemed bleak.’

This book is not simply an exposé (though it is that, too) but a novel of compassion and caring and concern by one very talented writer and humanist. Highly Recommended for those in the healthcare fields and for all beings who may at some point be a patient. Grady Harp, August 15

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