‘Who will take care of the caregivers?’

“The Comfort Garden is an account of the five years Laurie Barkin worked as a psychiatric nurse consultant on the surgical/trauma unit at San Francisco General Hospital. Written in a literary style, these true and fast-moving stories disclose many tragic tales and some humorous. Against the backdrop of patients who have survived motor vehicle accidents, falls, fires, fists, bullets, and knives, The Comfort Garden explores what happens to professional caregivers when exposure to tragedy becomes routine.

The title derives from detours into the real garden at San Francisco General Hospital where the author took refuge. Ms. Barkin often visited The Comfort Garden to sort out her feelings and lift her spirits. Throughout the book, she uses humor and beauty to counterbalance the sadness and weight of trauma.

Vicarious trauma can affect anyone who regularly bears witness to victims’ stories of violence, abuse, and neglect. As an antidote, regular meetings-to discuss how staff members are coping with what they see and hear in their work with patients-are recommended.

Ms. Barkin also depicts a working parent’s ongoing struggle to juggle family life and work, especially when emotions run high in both arenas. The Comfort Garden will appeal to students, health care professionals, and anyone whose life has been touched by trauma. Ms. Barkin is a consultant to the Department of Psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco.

For orders, contact: thecomfortgarden2011 at gmail.com or Fresh Pond Press, P.O. Box 460651, San Francisco, CA 94146