This is a book that could have been so much more had the author had any talent beyond headline grabbing. This book's greatest failure is the author's inability to move the story past the immediacy of tabloid journalism. It reports without any critical analysis leaving the reader, who lacks expertise, with the authorial responsibility to fill in the missing gaps and determine which voices are correct or the most accurate. It's raison d'etre is not how medical institutions function in a crisis but with the accusation that euthanasia was committed. It is an important story. This book might have been important. What happened in New Orleans also happened in New York City after Sandy and may happen again in other cities.
The book does not cover so many important issues that bubble up from the story being told. It leaves out of its purview the role of privately owned, for profit hospitals in preparing for and responding to these crises. It gives almost no coverage to what happened beyond this hospital on a local, state, Federal level that left medical personal incommunicado, literally in darkness, with no idea when rescue would happen, and in fear of attack either from residents from the surrounding area or from those in equally squalid conditions. She leaves unanswered why the individual most thought was coordinating relief was a private nurse with only a few hours of disaster courses, not a FEMA employee or even in contact with FEMA. Yet the myopia is only a part of the frustration one will experience with this book.
The only reason this book was written is because allocations that euthanasia occurred at this hospital were made. The author skews the story in order to assign blame when the story she tells is that people in isolation, in desperate straights, without electricity, without, air conditioning, in fear for their safety, suffering from sleep deprivation and hope of rescue as low as could be imagined, were doing their best to deal with the overwhelming challenges they faced. It might be argued that some of these issues are dealt with in the second section of the book. This would be false. The author does write of how medical personal behaved in Haiti after the earthquake. She brings up, briefly, how NYC hospitals managed when Hurricane Sandy struck. But her analysis is always superficial and is essentially useless. In both cases, individuals did not fear isolated. They did not fear for their personal safety. They were in contact with the outside world. They did not feel hopeless and helpless. They remained in control and in communication with the outside world. They were not part of for profit health corporations who had no plan with how to deal with a disaster of this magnitude nor did they feel any urgency to provide support to these beleaguered medical personnel. There is not analysis of health care provided by for-profit hospitals versus publically supported hospitals.
Then there is the larger issue of life and care of those elderly who are in a persistent vegetative state. The issue is touched upon. Indeed, it is held up as a banner to the reader and the author as a bludgeon to beat individuals she clearly feels behaved improperly. Yet it is a subject that ought to be explored in depth, particularly since it is the costs of these services that are helping to make health care so expensive--and the reasons for-profit health care exists. As important as this subject is from the perspective of policy or morality it is analyzed from the selfish perspective of individual relatives of patients in this hospital or from a moral absolutist position. Even the author seems to suggest that those she believes behaved improperly and who deserved to be held criminally accountable, did so under the best motives. Since her focus never leaves the surface we have no idea why those individuals reached the conclusion that their actions were necessary and the humane because the author's reporting occurred while they were under criminal pearl.
There is no historical analysis, there is no institutional analysis, there is little that ever does more than scratch the surface of any subject. All voices are granted equal weight and are rarely ever put in larger context. There is no authorial shaping of the story. It is the retelling of a story from the myopic and disjointed perspective of each individual, that had it some shape might have offered a valuable look at how and why people performed how they did.The reader is left screaming at the page at false conclusions made, for cheap attacks or for the superficiality of the information offered and the analysis offered. This may be an important story but it will have to be told by others as this author is lost and whose ability is unequal to the task.
It is obvious that Fink did her research and it was easy to trust her facts. I have nothing negative to say on that front. However, her writing style was far from engaging for me. This story is so incredibly intriguing, It makes you think about everything from disaster preparedness to assisted suicide to what you would do for survival... yet I felt the complexities of it were lost in this telling.
The narrator's lack of knowledge regarding the local dialect was horribly distracting throughout this entire book. PLEASE do some research and do not butcher the pronunciation of street names, sir names, common phrases, etc.
It is easy to say that those of us who were not there could never understand and should not judge. But if we are ever to learn we must try to put ourselves in these terrible places and we must be willing to judge. Fink has done an outstanding job providing a balanced and detailed account of what transpired during those hellish five days that so many of us remember watching unfold on television. She speaks for the medical workers, the families and the patients. As a pastor and a lawyer the questions she leaves me with are not related to whether the physicians did the right thing, but how we can help others the next time this happens, and the time after that.
Memorial Hospital apparently had a policy of allowing employees to bring not only their children to work but also their pets, who'd spend the day in hospital-provided kennels. The story opens with an account of two doctors struggling to inject a terrified cat in the heart with a lethal dose of chemicals, trying -- successfully, eventually, after having to chase it and catch it twice --to kill it, allegedly to prevent it's suffering in the impending chaos. They then set about preparing to also kill off the remaining patients who can't be moved.
That's the point at which I stopped listening. Too much, just too much.
This is a true story, apparently. We are told these things happened, they were done.
But for me, I came to realize -- very quickly, in this book -- that there are some true events that I just don't need to hear about. This was just too agonizing for me. Knowing that it's true makes it that much worse.
I'm trying to return the book, per Audible's return policy. I haven't been successful yet, but this is not a book I want to explore any further. What did I expect? Probably a tale of heroism, courage under impossible circumstances. I wasn't expecting a tale of mass murder of animals and sick people.
My husband & I share the account. Anything on history is his read. I'm more into fiction/zombie & apocalyptic reads.
The 1st part of the book was excellent. Very interesting about the time spent in the hospital. The 2nd part was unexpected but gave quite a summary of the background on relevant cases and other items key to the story. The narrator was very well spoken and easy to listen to although she did have trouble with some of the local last names.
I would say that it was time well spent listening to the book.
I didn't know very much about what happened in NOLA hospitals in the aftermath of Katrina. I had read and liked Zeitoun by Dave Eggers and thought this would be a good sequel. It delivered.
This book is a meditation about medical ethics in circumstances where patient needs exceed available medical resources. It raises essential questions that all medical professionals would do well to contemplate. I am not a medical professional but have recommended this book to MD friends of mine.
Dr. Anna Pou. Although favorite implies liking and the portrayal of Dr. Pou is not that. I thought Dr. Pou was the most interesting and complex character.
I wouldn't say I had an extreme reaction. But I had a lot of empathy mainly for the patients and their families but also for some of the medical professionals who chose to stay and provide care when others left NOLA as Katrina approached.
This is a good book for general readers and an essential book for medical professionals. There are no easy answers to the questions raised. Hopefully, we can learn from what happened in NOLA hospitals after Katrina. Catastrophe training and preparation is feasible and necessary if hospitals are to better respond to crises in contexts including, but not limited to, natural disasters.
I don't know if this book counts as journalism, history or whatever, but it was GOOD. It made you feel like you were there (without the agony of BEING there). The author didn't judge the characters or events which was also good. It shows how quickly society can break down even with the best of intentions and how rapidly the dogs of war come to finish the job. Great moral story and warning (which we will probably ignore).
This was a gripping story, well-narrated and well-written. I found Fink's interviews and analysis of euthanasia at the end of the book particularly interesting. It kept me thinking and talking about the issues it covered for weeks.
Yes! It is almost hard to believe I heard right the first time. Did this really happen? Just a few years ago, in this supposedly "developed" country??
The whole book blew my mind. As a health care provider it left me wondering how easily any other hospital could end up in the same situation. It makes you ask "what would I do?" and "how can we prevent this?"
Yes, it just shocked and amazed me in so many ways. I think the author did a great job presenting an unbiased view of what happened, and just making you analyze what we take for granted. It brings up so many ethical questions about what our priorities are and the conflict between business or selfish motivations and really providing care to people. I talked about this book to everyone.
Say something about yourself!
I couldn't get past the second chapter because this book was so disturbing to me. I am a nurse and pray that I'm never put into a situation where I'll face the choices I read about here. Perhaps someone who doesn't identify so closely with the situation could enjoy or at least tolerate this story.
Oh yes. It wasn't her writing I had a problem with.
The performance was adequate.
The pet dog that had to be put down.