When the dreaded number "311.6" appears on a beeper's screen, doctors in the neurosurgery department at Chelsea General know that one of their colleagues is about to have a very bad day. As ER doctor George Villanueva explains to a curious intern at the teaching hospital, “Those numbers represent an invitation to the most secret and best-guarded meetings that ever take place in a hospital. Morbidity and Mortality, some call it. Others call it Death and Complications. I call it the Someone Effed Up Conference. " Monday morning at 6 am in room 311 is the traditional setting for the meeting, and the book Monday Mornings chronicles the lives and careers of 5 doctors at Chelsea General who find themselves reluctant participants in the devastating inquiries.
Dr. Villaneuva is affectionately known as El Gato Grande or Gato because his agile 350 pound body that was perfect for his days as a professional football player, seems out of place in a hospital. A brilliant diagnostician, his opinions are revered by co-workers as well as by medical students.
Dr. Tina Ridgeway, mother of 3, finds that while she enjoys being a physician, marriage and a big city hospital might not be where her dreams can come true.
Dr. Ty Wilson's movie-star good looks belie his undeniable surgical skill, but when a miscalculation results in a young boy's death, his confidence is so severely shaken that his career may be over.
Dr. Sung Park, an overachiever driven by the desire to be an American neurosurgeon diligently repeats his medical training when he leaves Korea to live in Michigan, but his formidable ambition is no match for catastrophic illness when he becomes the patient.
Sydney Saxena, another workaholic doctor, responds to the question, "What's the worst thing about being on call?" with "You miss half of the best cases." If she has a personal life, neither she nor her coworkers are aware of it. Rounding out the group of five is Harding Hooten, the Chairman of Surgery. At 65 years old, retirement might be advised, but Dr. Hooten is not ready to leave the operating room or relinquish his leadership position at the hospital.
CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, a practicing neurosurgeon at Emory University Hospital and associate chief of service at Grady Memorial Hospital, adds a measure of authenticity to his first novel. He includes just the right degree of medical information and jargon in his dialogue and prose so that the listener feels like an informed onlooker who is not in danger of being overwhelmed by incomprehensible scientific terms.
Christopher Rummel's narration is so genuine that until I checked the credits I found myself assuming that Dr. Gupta was reading the book himself, and I marveled that the multi-talented doctor could also be a such a gifted actor. Rummel's delivery effectively conveys the humor and gravity of an active medical community. This audio book gives a behind the scenes look at the men and women whose lives connect in a busy hospital. Aspiring medical students might find their ordeals either discouraging or hopeful, but nonprofessional observers will simply find the world Dr. Gupta has revealed to be mesmerizing.
Monday Mornings by Sanjay Gupta
Read by Christian Rommel
Hachette Audio, unabridged: 10 hours on 9 CDs