Sociology’s Jonathan Wynn Co-Authors New Book on Urban Hospitals and their Surrounding Communities
Jonathan R. Wynn, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology, has published a new book examining how hospitals affect and are affected by their surrounding communities. In “The City and The Hospital: The paradox of medically overserved communities” (University of Chicago Press, Nov. 2023), Wynn and co-authors Berkeley Franz, a fellow sociologist, and Daniel Skinner, a political scientist, show that many communities around hospitals are economically distressed and, counterintuitively, medically underserved.
The book compares three different urban medical centers — Connecticut’s Hartford Hospital, the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and the University of Colorado Hospital — and their communities to demonstrate how hospitals “are not only medical institutions but powerful and complex forces within urban contexts,” according to Sara Shostak, professor of sociology and health: science, society and policy at Brandeis University.
The authors explore how the hospitals interact with their communities through the lenses of power, history, race and city life. While medical centers supply employment to residents, business to local vendors and emergency health care to the community, they can also drive gentrification, displace residents by buying up real estate and limit advanced and long-term care only to patients who can afford it. The book details the underlying causes of these issues and offers policy solutions.
Harold Pollack, Helen Ross Professor at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice at the University of Chicago, writes that the book “chronicles these gut-wrenching urban health disparities — how they came to be, how hospitals and policymakers learned to tolerate them and what we must do about them. ‘The City and the Hospital’ is essential reading for any citizen, policymaker and hospital leader who wishes to address this profound failure of America’s medical political economy.”
“The City and the Hospital” is available for purchase directly from the University of Chicago Press and from booksellers everywhere.