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
Working in the healthcare emergency preparedness field, this is a story I wish everyone would read or listen to because the hardships and lessons learned have implications on hospitals and communities across the country. Hospital administrators and care providers are locked in an epic struggle between balancing their everyday workload, financial crisis, and emergency preparedness mandates. There simply isn't enough time or money to make it all work optimally. As a result there continues to be disaster liabilities at many hospitals that I hope and pray never come to light.
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.
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.
A compelling read.
This investigative report reveals a suspenseful narrative, and engages the reader to critically think about end of life decision-making.
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.
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.
Mountainbiker, Skier, Riverman, Dzedo
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.
World Champion Parallel Parker
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.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.