• Doctor’s Novel Offers an Insider’s Look at Hospital Politics

    (Boston) When Slater Barnes decided to pursue a career in medicine, like many of our nation’s doctors, he did it because he wanted to make a difference. But when he accepted a residency at Boston City Hospital, one of the country’s most demanding urban hospitals, he had no idea what he was getting himself into.

    In Days of the Giants (January 13, 2015, Wide Yard, $26.99), the new novel by emergency doctor and researcher R.J. Petrella, not only do readers get a close-up view of the kinds of cases doctors on the front lines face everyday-- shootings, drug overdoses and heart attacks-- they get an insider’s look at the politics that go on in our nation’s hospitals.

    "Politics plays a huge role in hospitals and academic institutions, more than I ever would have thought in the beginning. It’s important at all levels, but it becomes more important the higher you go. At the highest levels, medicine and science are very political as fields," said Petrella.

    Days of the Giants is set in the politically turbulent world of Boston medicine in the early 1990s. It follows the story’s protagonist, Slater Barnes, who is afflicted with a life-threatening medical condition, through a grueling medical internship at Boston City Hospital. Despite the demands of the training and the hospital’s deteriorating condition, Barnes is taken by BCH and its commitment to public medicine. But when Boston mayor Peter Doyle pushes an extravagant hospital rebuilding plan through City Council, corrupt city officials manage to turn it into a profit scheme that threatens the hospital, itself. Barnes and the rest of the BCH staff are challenged to defend themselves and the institution they love. Amid the turmoil that follows, one of the residents is murdered.

    Though entirely fiction, the story, which is told by both the main character Barnes and his father, was inspired by Petrella’s own experiences as a resident. "I did train in medicine at Boston City Hospital in the 1990s, so I’m familiar with the terrain. It was a politically volatile time in medicine. There were a lot of changes happening to hospitals of all stripes, everywhere. So, I thought I would write about that," he said.

    The real Boston City Hospital, which opened its doors in 1864 with the mission of serving patients regardless of means, merged with Boston University Medical Center Hospital in 1996 to form Boston Medical Center. BMC is the primary teaching affiliate of the Boston University School of Medicine.

    "I meant the book more as an homage, a tribute to public hospitals. I also hoped I could tell a story about how a young man came of age and overcame some personal demons," said Petrella. In addition to being a story about corruption, the novel contains elements of mystery and romance and depicts the compromised life of a medical resident.

    Reviewer Dean L. of Connecticut said, "Medicine is a difficult business -- more so than you would think according to Days of the Giants. The book begins and ends with action sequences...The pace accelerates and the final 80 pages rush at you as a succession of action sequences that connect the plot points."

    "Keeps you wanting to continue to read and not put it down," said reviewer A. Miles, a physician. "In short, Petrella has his characters, their mindset, and the tenor of those times down cold. I highly recommend this great read!"

    Days of the Giants is scheduled for release on January 13, 2015. It will be available for purchase through Amazon.com (e-book and paperback versions), BarnesandNoble.com (e-book and hardcover versions) and a number of other online outlets, including Apple ibooks, Kobo, and Baker & Taylor. It will also be available for order at Barnes & Noble stores and for direct purchase at Espresso Book Machine kiosks.

    About the Author

    R.J. Petrella is a physician, scientist and writer in Boston. He grew up in Providence’s West End and is the son of Italian immigrants. As a young man he worked in his father’s Rhode Island restaurants.

    Petrella plans to donate a portion of the proceeds from book sales to Boston-area hospitals and health-related charities.

    For further information, visit www.wideyard.com.

    To arrange an interview with author R.J. Petrella, or to request a review copy of Days of the Giants, contact Rachel M. Anderson, Publicist, RMA Publicity, at 952-240-2513 or rachel@rmapublicity.com.