"Five Days at Memorial" is balanced, thought provoking and unexpectedly shocking. I still wonder "what would I have done" under the same horrific circumstances. Was the outcome just? Was truth and justice really served? Why wasn't the situation different? I'm still haunted.
It's an excellent piece of investigative journalism.
I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.
Well, this is a terrifying story. A horrible flood, under-prepared staff members caring for sick patients, no plan for emergencies, and a time frame that stretches on adding day to day. This is the story of Memorial Hospital as it was stranded during Katrina. There is dirt and fear and failing electricity and patients who need hand pumped ventilation and air conditioning. Then the really crazy question: did the staff members euthanize the patients? There's ample evidence that they did.
The author takes you through the decisions and the points of view in great detail for the five days of the disaster. It's really epic reading and you'll storm through the first half of this book. But the disaster is only the first half. Then we have the legal story, told with the same care for balance and detail, we watch the investigation into Dr. Amanda Pou, who likely ordered the injections. Was she guilty and would she be convicted? This is inherently not as interesting a subject matter and there is less human drama (though the complexities of legal struggle did keep my attention). If this book was more disaster and less legal struggle it would have been perfect. As it stands, it's just really, really good.
The lessons learned from this horrific event are ones we should be implementing. As demonstrated by events during Hurricane Sandy, we are still woefully prepared for caring for our most fragile during crises. We need to realize that, yes there is global warming - and as we work to bring an end to this mega crisis, the able-bodied need to prepare to take care for the elderly, the too young, the too sick.
The author knows what she speaks of....
Her heart makes the horror more real.
Yes, yes, yes. And I will listen to the story again, and again.
I started this book with rather strong feelings about end of life decisions, but I found myself changing my mind throughout the entire book. The book includes a lot of information about Katrina that I was unaware of, and overall I thought it was well researched. For me, however, a book with this many names, dates, and facts is usually better in print form, as I can look back and review earlier information.
Say something about yourself!
This is a book that will grab you from the first few pages and hold your interest to the end. It's well written, well narrated and the kind of book you wish three of your friends were reading at the same time so you could talk with them about it, which is why I think it would be an excellent choice as a book club pick. The likely discussion about the book would be lively and interesting and sure to go off in many directions.
Avid general reader with a fondness for British and Irish Writers and world history.
Unquestionably a book which should be read and discussed by those who are involved in emergency preparedness programs as well as the general public. Well researched, well documented description of conditions at an aging but vital hospital in New Orleans during Katrina as well as historical and subsequent developments and the players involved.
Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy
This book should be read by all thinking adults. It is so much more than just an account of what happened at Memorial Hospital in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina. I came away, just finishing the book, with really disturbing feelings. I know these uneasy feelings will linger for a long time. I feel the wrongness of what happened in my bones, but I also realize that there were extenuating circumstances that allowed it to happen. I feel a deep sense of anger, but I am not sure where it should be directed.
I toss around so many thoughts, in my head and to those who will listen to me.
Was Dr. Anna Pou a sociopath (a liar and murderer) or was she just a victim of her circumstances? After all, she appeared to be an experienced and talented surgeon who really cared about her own patients. But is that enough to excuse her behaviors, before and during the event?
Are doctors considered on a par with God in this country? Just because a doctor takes charge in a critical situation, will no one even question their decisions? Understandably certain staff will follow all orders, but what about other doctors (co-workers) of equal status? Is it enough just to walk away and not see?
Is it just in the personality of those people who step up and want to take charge--Anna Pou, most of our politicians, big bosses? Perhaps people of greater honesty and honor have no desire to take charge? I am often disturbed at having to vote, not for the best person, but for the lesser of two evils.
Is a DNR really the best way to go? I always thought I should have one, but after listening to this book, I am not so sure anymore. How can one protect their own wishes in the absence of a friend or loved one?
Above all, this book should be read by medical professionals, especially administrators, who can and should come up with policies, procedures, and recommendations, so that one or more rogue persons cannot take charge and make decisions that are not in the best interest of the most helpless souls.
This book was expertly narrated by Kirsten Potter, who has the ability to narrate as the book was written, in a neutral, non-accusatory manner. I commend the author, Sheri Fink, for doing her research and for presenting the facts without an agenda getting in the way.
Highly recommended listen!
This book reads like an insurance report, so dry that the horrific events described seem dull. The book is well researched, but in an effort to be thorough, the author is repetitive, and either she is not interested in providing emotional perspective to the events described or purposely avoided doing so.
I was the only one in my book club able to finish this book, probably because I work in medicine and have myself been in a similar (though less intense) situation and I was interested in understanding how other professionals felt during a true emergency. Sadly, this account didn't really contain much insight into how anyone felt, it is completely factual. Now if you are in market for an emotionless analysis of a frightening tragedy, this is the book for you and I recommend it as such.
I have not listened to any other performances by Kirsten Potter, she did the best she could have done with the material.
I did have an interesting discussion with my husband (a physician) about what training medical schools offer in ethics, and about triage in military situations versus inner city settings, and during drills for natural disasters. It would have made a nice essay, far more interesting than this book.
It was a gripping account of what happened at one hospital in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. I had very little difficulty differentiating between who was who and who did what, and that was due in no small part to the author's little reminders here and there.
Kirsten Potter was a great narrator choice for this book.
Hospital by Julie Salamon (spelling?) Five Days was a much ebtter read, for the simple reason that it had a specific event to tie itself to, rather than Hospital (which just kept on going).
A long time ago I heard her read one of the Lisa Gardner books. She did a great job... this one, by its subject matter, was a different type of read, but Ms. Potter is still stunning.
No. I kept having to pick it up and put it down - not because it wasn't interesting, but because there were some passages that were so hard to read.
This book is a thorough expose on what can happen when hospitals are not prepared in the cases of emergency. While I do not think anything was done maliciously out of poor intentions, the circumstances during those five days at memorial provide a backdrop of how everything that can go wrong, will.
I am from the New Orleans area and was one of the many thousands who evacuated for Hurricane Katrina. I was also one of the large population of locals who were offended and dismayed when then-Attorney General Charles Foti arrested a doctor and two nurses who had been at the flooded Memorial hospital during the disaster. Public opinion at the time was squarely behind the hospital staff, largely because we thought that the opportunistic former sheriff was blaming the very people, who saved so many lives, of not being even more heroic. This was my opinion, and that of everyone I talked to - until I read the ProPublica article about conditions at Memorial, published in 2009. That article convinced me that perhaps something very unsavory had happened at the hospital during the disaster.
And so it was with great interest that I read the reporter's more thorough examination of those days in this book. This book deserves a Pulitzer; it is an unbiased, well balanced and extremely thorough examination of the events at Memorial and the consequences of those events. I also have a Ph.D. in philosophy, and so I was hoping to see a studied examination of the ethical issues surrounding the events, and I was not disappointed. Ms. Fink clearly and accurately explained some of the most basic principles of ethics, and how they were (or were not) applied in this case.
The overall impression that I had of the medical professionals at Memorial was that they were so over-taxed, over-worked and under-prepared that they were not in a position to make truly rational choices about their sickest patients. To prevent this kind of tragedy in the future, our institutions must determine ahead of time how they will react in a disaster, and the people in those institutions need to cling to their moral principles, rather than abandon them in such a moment of crisis. The contrast of Memorial hospital with Charity hospital is most striking in this regard. Both hospitals were stranded in flood waters and lost power. But at Charity they were prepared and had practiced for just such an event. They evacuated the sickest patients first, not last, and they didn't give any patients lethal injections. Three people died at Charity, compared with forty-five deaths at Memorial, many of those in the last few hours, even as helicopters were arriving en masse to evacuate the hospital. Please read this book.