First-time Flint author tackles the topic of healthcare with comedy and empathy in new book

FLINT, Michigan — A new book published by a Flint local has been making its rounds in the city and on the internet, quickly gaining a reputation for taking an empathetic, and oftentimes, comedic approach to the topics of home nursing, poverty, and on more than one occasion, public defecation. With an offputting title that begins to make sense upon reading, The Hoodnurse Chronicles: Delivering care into a war zone serves as an impactful and entertaining read.

Based on the experiences of John Haynes, the book’s author, The Hoodnurse Chronicles presents the reader with a series of vignettes detailing what it’s like to deliver healthcare to some of the city’s most impoverished and dilapidated households. 

Narrated by Haynes, who is quick to find the silver lining in any situation, the stories within Hoodnurse manage to explore the spectrum of human emotions. From incredulity and depression to contentment and elation, his stories come together to form a narrative that, while funny and touching, conveys the harsh realities many of his patients confront on a daily basis. 

For Haynes, however, it’s that silver lining — the one sliver of good in a bad situation that he wants readers to focus on.

“I just want people to have a little bit of fun. There is no shortage of things that can be aggravating or disappointing. If you can escape your problems from the world and have a laugh, maybe step into environments you would otherwise not have known existed, I think that’s great,” Haynes said. 

Although part of his purpose for writing the book was to entertain and educate readers, he said there was also a large part of him that saw the book as a form of self-therapy. 
Haynes worked on 'The Hoodnurse Chronicles' while healing from a harmful case of COVID-19 in 2021.
In 2021, Haynes caught a particularly harmful case of COVID-19 that left him hospitalized for a week and mostly homebound for the months following. It was during that time when, after years of journaling about his experiences and being encouraged by friends to put them to paper, Haynes finally decided to start working on a book. 

In some ways, he struggles with his health, and ultimately, the struggle and the wish to stay alive, come through in his writing. Parts in the book where he describes tense or morose situations like a potential mugging or a man on the brink of suicide are infused with an essence of optimism that could only be written by someone who has learned the hard way how precious life can be. 

“Throwing this (book) together was as much a mental health exercise for me, personally, to deal with my loss of functionality and things like that,” Haynes said. “I’m on fire just to be alive at all, part of that is what I think comes out as well, just my gratitude to be alive.”

In one story, the author visits an elderly woman who has slowly been losing her mobility. Her son who lives with her neglects many of her healthcare needs.

Haynes writes; “Between the ongoing body odors, the outhouse odors, and the constant weed odors, the smells of this place punched your nose right in the face before you even got to the threshold of the doorway more times than not, but she was such a sweet lady that you just couldn’t help but root for her.”

In a time where every aspect of life feels like it’s mired in controversy and tragedy, it seems many readers were looking for a book that would introduce laughter and levity back into their lives. 

Since publishing Hoodnurse in late Jan. 2022, Haynes, a first-time author, has sold physical copies in 13 countries and his book has broken the top 15 best-selling books in several Kindle Store categories, including Two-Hour Humor & Entertainment Short Reads as well as Nursing Home & Community Care. 

“The Hoodnurse Chronicles: Delivering care into a war zone” is available on Amazon in hardcover form and through Kindle as a digital download. 

Read more articles by Santiago Ochoa.

Santiago Ochoa is a freelance reporter and communications student at UM-Flint. He is the project editor for On The Ground community reporting series and currently serves as The Michigan Times' Editor-in-Chief. Santiago has worked with publications and organizations like The New York Times, the Interamerican Press Association and Flint Beat. You can reach him @santi8a98 on Twitter and Instagram and email him at [email protected]