If you had to decide whether a person should live or die, what would you do? This is the central theme of Five Days at Memorial, a gripping account of how doctors, nurses and their patients at one New Orleans hospital endured unbearable conditions after Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005. Flooding, loss of electricity, sweltering heat, dwindling medical supplies and anarchy in the streets were among the issues confronting doctors and nurses at Memorial Medical Center. The situation eventually deteriorated far enough that some hospital workers were placed in the unenviable position of deciding whether to let critically ill patients suffer, or hasten their deaths. They chose to administer morphine and other drugs, ending the lives of at least 18 patients.
Five Days at Memorial chronicles the events leading up to these deaths, and the ensuing criminal investigation and trial of those deemed responsible. In the five days after the hurricane devastated the city, the hospital’s power failed, as did its generators. The lack of air conditioning added to patients’ suffering. Delays on the part of the corporation that owned the hospital slowed an evacuation, as did confusion among the various local, state and federal agencies trying to manage the crisis. So there lay the severely ill, without medication or hope of rescue. For some doctors and nurses, euthanasia seemed the only choice.
The original story that became Five Days at Memorial was co-published in the New York Times and ProPublica, and won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. Journalist Sheri Fink is a dogged researcher, a thorough interviewer and a gifted writer who turns nonfiction into lively prose. The characters she writes about are real, but their unbelievable circumstances make the book read like a work of fiction.
Readers will com[Tue Mar 11 15:10:47 2014] enhancedContent.pl: Wide character in print at E:\websites\aquabrowser\IMCPL\app\site\enhancedContent.pl line 249. e away with a greater understanding of the difficult circumstances residents of New Orleans faced during Katrina, and will also confront important moral and ethical questions. Fink asks us to consider: If we had been there during those dark, desperate days at Memorial, would we have made a different choice?Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.
Journalist Fink (War Hospital: A True Story of Surgery and Survival) won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for her work on the harrowing events at New Orleans's Memorial Hospital during and after Hurricane Katrina, reporting that became the basis for this book. Two thousand patients, staff members, and their family and friends sought safety at Memorial as Katrina approached on Monday, August 28, 2005. Without power, running water, air-conditioning, or standard high-tech medical equipment, conditions quickly deteriorated, particularly for the oldest and most critically ill patients. It wasn't until Friday, September 1, that everyone was finally rescued, and, by that time, there had been 45 patient deaths--18 of them deemed suspicious by the New Orleans coroner. A legal hurricane followed, and one doctor and three nurses were accused of second-degree murder. Fink devotes half of her book to the criminal investigations and ensuing grand jury inquiry, guiding readers through the concepts of triage, euthanasia, and end-of-life care that made the cases so controversial. VERDICT Fink's six years of research and more than 500 interviews yield a rich narrative full of complex characters, wrenching ethical dilemmas, and mounting suspense. General readers and medical professionals alike will finish the book haunted by the question, "What would I have done?" [See Prepub Alert, 6/24/13.]--Kathleen Arsenault, St. Petersburg, FL[Page 132]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
"They were in a war zone," Fink (War Hospital: A True Story of Surgery and Survival) writes of those stranded inside New Orleans' Memorial Medical Center in the calamitous wake of Hurricane Katrina. In this astonishing blend of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism (Fink, who also has an M.D. and Ph.D., won the award for the investigative reporting on which this book is based) and breathtaking narration, she chronicles the chaotic evacuation of the hospital and the agonizing ethical, physical, and emotional quandaries facing Memorial nurses and doctors, including a nightmarish triage process that led to the controversial decision to inject critically ill patients with fatal doses of morphine in order to refocus attention on those with a chance of surviving. An alarming 45 bodies were recovered from the crippled hospital, nine of which were deemed suspected victims of euthanasia. Yet investigators realized that unraveling the tragedies was "as impossible as collecting fragments of a fractured mirror and then, somehow, inferring what image had once appeared there." Some members of the medical staff were charged with murder, but a grand jury acquitted them. Plenty of hard-earned lessons were learned from the stunningly mismanaged response to the disaster, yet Fink acknowledges that for the families of those who never made it out of Memorial, the "war against nature" could only be considered a loss. (Sept. 10)[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC