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
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.
This book goes on my list of one of the most powerful reads of all time. I think it a must read for every person who might be part of a disaster at some point in their life, which means everyone. It would be an excellent book for an ethics course to read and discuss.
I found my emotions being sucked all over the place. From anger at the lack of planning and poorly coordinated response to compassion for the filth and terror those whose lives are forever marred from the experience to being utterly confounded by the decisions made by the health care professionals, sometimes understanding but at other times listening with disbelief.
I do not however stand in judgment. How can I? Unless you were present and experienced the disaster first-hand there is no possible way you can judge anyone for their actions or inaction. It has however made me realize that our values guide our decisions and the decisions we make in the "dark" may look very different in the light so it would be wise to wrestle out some of these life altering choices before a crisis.
I know this, we as a country failed the people of New Orleans. The epilogue illuminates several similar disasters post Katrina and suggests that we haven't come too far in the years that have passed. Scary stuff. A must read!
The Book Rev
I was blown away by the story of courage and sacrifice represented in this valuable look at the affects of Hurricane Katrina upon one hospital and its staff. I was devastated by the conclusions of forensic experts of murder and euthanasia delivered by a few Health Experts. This is an intense and honest story of the human condition under extreme stress and fear. It is told in a non-biased presentation that left me somewhat conflicted.I highly recommend this book!
I especially appreciated the strength of character, the self sacrifice and the sense of responsibility for those unable to care for themselves. This is a story revealing the pinnacle of selflessness and courage in the face of unthinkable devastating conditions. In the light of seemingly insurmountable barriers a small group of professionals sought out answers and implemented difficult solutions.
The scene I especially enjoyed was the successful conclusion of the transportation of the first evacuees, tiny infants, preemies, from Memorial Hospital. It was thought that they would not survive the evacuation but for the work of volunteers they were saved!
The fear of the lawlessness outside, outside of the walls of this tiny enclave, was palpable. I can not imagine forgetting very soon those scenes that produced such terror in the hearts and minds of the health specialists dedicated in saving those who could not care for themselves.
For those who love the back story of major events, this is a must. This will leave you breathless and at times proud of those individuals working for a common cause in the face of such insurmountable problems.
Worth listening to for anyone in health care or disaster preparedness. Very thought provoking-What would you do when caring for seriously ill patients during severe circumstances with little to no outside support? Why were the outcomes at this hospital so different from other New Orleans hospitals during Hurricane Katrina. I did have some trouble keeping people's names straight - not sure if that is because I listened in smaller chunks, or due to the writing or narration.
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