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Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital | [Sheri Fink]

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital

In the tradition of the best writing on medicine, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs five days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the listener into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amidst chaos. After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, September 2013 - I’m more of a fiction reader and listener, but on the occasions when I turn to nonfiction it’s to better understand a compelling story. The best narrative nonfiction – like Unbroken and Devil in the White City – remains with you long after the last chapter has ended, and so is the case with my September pick, which reveals the chaotic details, devastating conditions, and overwhelming emotions that emerged during the five days that hundreds of patients, employees, family members, and pets spent stranded in New Orleans’ Memorial Hospital during Hurricane Katrina. It’s hard to listen to the events of those days – but almost as impossible to put the book down as author Sheri Fink, who previously won the Pulitzer Prize for her reporting, raises important questions about end-of-life care and how to be better prepared for major disasters. Frightening, fascinating, and highly recommended. —Diana D., Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink’s landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina - and her suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice

In the tradition of the best writing on medicine, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs five days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the listener into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amidst chaos.

After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths.

Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the listener into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing.

In a voice at once involving and fair, masterful and intimate, Fink exposes the hidden dilemmas of end-of-life care and reveals just how ill-prepared we are in America for the impact of large-scale disasters - and how we can do better. A remarkable book, engrossing from start to finish, Five Days at Memorial radically transforms your understanding of human nature in crisis.

©2013 Sheri Fink (P)2013 Random House Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (788 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Teresa B 03-09-15
    Teresa B 03-09-15 Member Since 2013

    ttchoups

    ratings
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    111
    11
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    Story
    "Sad , but a story that needs to be told"

    The narrator did an excellent job with the New Orleans lingo and pronunciations. This is not an easy task. We have a lot of names that don't sound like they look. And this can be distracting from the story.
    This is a tale that should never be repeated. It needs to be told.
    What a horrible horrible time it was.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ann 03-03-15
    Ann 03-03-15

    Zoe's Mom

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    "Journalism at its finest!"

    It can't be easy to corral six years of interviews with hundreds of frightened fact-withholding survivors of trauma, and then to write the story in a fluid and understandable style..while avoiding the misrepresentation of each litigiously prone principle. The event itself was "hell" but reporting on it must have felt like tightrope walking.
    Well done!
    A compelling read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan DENVER, CO, United States 01-27-15
    Susan DENVER, CO, United States 01-27-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Interesting and thought provoking."

    This investigative report reveals a suspenseful narrative, and engages the reader to critically think about end of life decision-making.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Calliope 12-24-14
    Calliope 12-24-14
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    "a lot of tough choices through a very tough time"

    I'm still not sure what happened in those 5 days at Memorial Medical Center in the aftermath of Katrina......and that's a good thing. This book reports from multiple sides of the situations to illustrate the conflicting stories, issues, and post-event findings that show that life (especially life during a crisis) is not straightforward and simple. Heroes have failings and villains have threads of redemption, and there were no winners after Hurricane Katrina.

    What this book does let us know for sure is that there were a lot of tough choices to be made by a lot of people in a tragically desperate situation; some people did some heroic things, some people did some cowardly things, and some people tried to muddle through the best they could. There was corporate bureaucracy, false rumours spread by nervous media sources, and a wealth of post-situational criminal charges and civil law suits. It makes for an interesting story, all 'round.

    The narration was average, suffering a few mispronunciations but otherwise up to the task.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Plaisance Buffalo Gap, TX United States 09-23-14
    K. Plaisance Buffalo Gap, TX United States 09-23-14 Member Since 2015

    Hippie Gal

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    "Five Days at Memorial"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George K. 09-16-14
    George K. 09-16-14

    Riverrunner, Powderhound, Pizzaiolo, Mountainbiker, Fisherman, Dzedo to James

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Overwhelmed in the Aftermath of Catastrophe"
    What made the experience of listening to Five Days at Memorial the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    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.


    Which character – as performed by Kirsten Potter – was your favorite?

    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.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teadrinker Oak Ridge, NJ, United States 08-05-14
    Teadrinker Oak Ridge, NJ, United States 08-05-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Great Capture of Events and Story"

    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).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karla Washington, DC 07-08-14
    Karla Washington, DC 07-08-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Very long, but well worth it"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cabrita 07-04-14
    Cabrita 07-04-14
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    "Appalling and enthralling"
    Would you listen to Five Days at Memorial again? Why?

    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??


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Five Days at Memorial?

    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?"


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ELEANOR FOWSER 05-14-14 Member Since 2011

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Depressing"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    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.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Sheri Fink again?

    Oh yes. It wasn't her writing I had a problem with.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The performance was adequate.


    What character would you cut from Five Days at Memorial?

    The pet dog that had to be put down.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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