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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

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  •  
    Amazon Customer Seattle, WA USA 04-15-14
    Amazon Customer Seattle, WA USA 04-15-14 Member Since 2012

    The Book Rev

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Katrina's Deadly Affect on One Hospitlal"
    What did you love best about Five Days at Memorial?

    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!


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    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!


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N8rdoc Canada 03-29-14
    N8rdoc Canada 03-29-14
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    "Important, Thought provoking Book"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Jupiter, FL, United States 03-18-14
    Barbara Jupiter, FL, United States 03-18-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Unbelievable but True!"

    I had heard about some court cases after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, pertaining to the possibility that some people were euthanized in hospitals and nursing homes. I didn't know the outcome. This author brings us the facts of this time -- five days -- after Katrina left and the city began flooding due to broken levees. She describes it day by day, using the words of the various people who were at the hospitals. I ended the book wondering what I would do in their shoes. It resulted in many conversations with nurses I know and adult children of nursing home patients. The last chapter describes new practices put into place for future natural disasters, but it left me slow to criticize what choices people make in critical situations.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rose Marie Holt Nampa, ID USA 03-12-14
    Rose Marie Holt Nampa, ID USA 03-12-14 Member Since 2015
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    "The worst, most ignored story of Katrina"
    If you could sum up Five Days at Memorial in three words, what would they be?

    Anyone can talk herself into evil. Anyone can do evil by just going along with someone who claims responsibility for it


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    People were killed needlessly because of foolishness.


    What about Kirsten Potter’s performance did you like?

    It was fine


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    In which the way other hospitals handled Katrina


    Any additional comments?

    I appreciated the author mentioning the Army Corps of Engineers and the failed levies as the cause of the outsized degree of suffering from a hurricane that had become rather tame by the time it hit New Orleans. Harry Shearer's film The Big Uneasy would be a useful companion. Narration of the movie would be a great audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Hoboken, NJ, United States 03-04-14
    Jason Hoboken, NJ, United States 03-04-14 Member Since 2013

    I like good books

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    "Eye Opener"
    What did you love best about Five Days at Memorial?

    The book was an amazing true story


    What did you like best about this story?

    The stories of each of the doctors and nureses


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Getting people out of the hospital


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    That there is a 2 pronged syetem of doctors proscribing medication and nurses administiring it


    Any additional comments?

    Great read and narrarator

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Max 02-16-14
    Max 02-16-14 Member Since 2014
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    "more interesting than I expected"

    I kept putting this listen off because I really wasn't that interested in more about Katrina. But I was quickly drawn in to the well told and interesting account of this event during the storm. Fink has put together a well rounded picture of the people involved, how decisions came about, and the broader implications for our disaster recovery institutions and infrastructure.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Becky Smith 01-31-14
    Becky Smith 01-31-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Intriguing and interesting"
    What made the experience of listening to Five Days at Memorial the most enjoyable?

    Very interesting look into an event which many of us only experienced from a distance. The book was fair to many sides in this scenario but at times seems to show favoritism towards real people/businesses reflected in this book.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Anna Poe; I was torn on what to think about her


    What about Kirsten Potter’s performance did you like?

    She was clear and put emphasis properly on words


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

    This book made me question some of my thinking on end of life scenarios. I work with an organization which was included in this book and I didn't realize that when I purchased this book. It was hard listening to some of their involvement in this event.


    Any additional comments?

    One of those books that you stay in the car to listen to even when you have arrived at your destination

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 01-27-14
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 01-27-14 Member Since 2015

    SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Whatever You Thought You Knew or Felt..."
    What made the experience of listening to Five Days at Memorial the most enjoyable?

    I can't say that this was an enjoyable listen; it's too hard-hitting for that. I did Animal Rescue after Katrina, and I remember what a horror show, what a nightmare the place was. This book, graphically and with chaotic realism, brought up a whole lot of memories for me. What I appreciated to no end was the amount of detail, the amount of research that went into the writing of this book. From emails and personal accounts, reports from the media to legal documents, everything! Absolutely everything was covered and addressed. And it's delivered in such a factual, unbiased way that you're left to decide for yourself: Was it right? Or was it wrong? Chances are that, if you had strong feelings about what happened, one way or the other, you'll still believe it. But, boy! Your thinking will be unalterably changed by this book! You'll be challenged to no end.


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

    As the book wraps up, and we see the lives of those involved progress and change, some horrific ironies turn up. What about that doctor who now finds himself deathly ill and with "no hope of a positive outcome?" What about that zealot of an investigator, hellbent on prosecution, who finds himself needing/herself with a loved one needing the awesome skills of these doctors they've been thinking of as devils? It's a strange life, a strange world we live in.


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

    There are many protagonists that you can't help but root for, whether medical or legal. Many antagonists you boo at. Kristen Potter brings them all out like a skilled documentarian, subtle variations giving each of them a powerful, personable voice. She delivers the facts with a flat skill, delivers each character with power and emotion. No mean feat.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    I was simply blown away by the politics that went into play after the events! And stunned by how each individual, from the doctors to the coroner, the attorney general and staff to the fly-by-night personal claims lawyers painted themselves after the fact. And the way we view treatment and death in America? Extraordinary!


    Any additional comments?

    I listened to this book, thinking, "People don't remember how bad it was. People can't understand unless they were there." But by the end, I honestly, truly wondered: No, really. Was it the right thing to do? I can only get down on my knees and thank God that I've never had to survive something like that to be in the position. You will too.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela York, PA, United States 01-24-14
    Angela York, PA, United States 01-24-14 Member Since 2014

    Angel

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Engaging Unbelievable Can't stop listening"
    What did you love best about Five Days at Memorial?

    The story was delivered in a very unbiased and informative manner. The fact that the author left her own prejudices out of her reporting is an absolute mark of a great investigative reporter. I loved how she built her characters giving us an idea of who the people were before the tragedy.


    What does Kirsten Potter bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She is well spoken, easy to listen to...her voice and tone are pleasant and engaging.


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

    I had to keep listening because I had to know what happened next....what did these people do...how did they cope...I kept trying to imagine what I would do in this situation. I love the survival mode genre because it exposes how humans react in extreme situations.


    Any additional comments?

    A must read for those that need an engaging story from page 1.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine Bryn Mawr, PA, United States 01-12-14
    Catherine Bryn Mawr, PA, United States 01-12-14 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "cast of thousands"

    This book presents a compelling story that has real relevance for our time. The story is clearly and carefully told and beautifully read by Kirsten Potter. The problem for a listener is that it has a cast of thousands. All these people are really hard to keep straight, and I can only hope that the printed book has a directory for a reader. A listener will have no trouble getting the overall contours of what happened, but the details of who did what and when were hard for this listener to retain across the length of the narrative.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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