FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL by Sheri Fink
FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL is two books in one. The first relates, through the eyes of those present, the happenings at Memorial Hospital during and after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Louisiana. The nurses, doctors, visitors and patients tell their stories as they happened with the result that it is sometimes difficult to follow the time line of events as the story shifts from floor to floor and person to person. Nonetheless the horror and fear is palpable as the storm rages and then as flood waters rise trapping those in the hospital for five days of increasing confusion and deprivation. No one appears in charge. No one appears to aid those trapped. Help is not on the way. Decisions are made and rescinded. Offers of help are sent, but do not arrive.
When help finally does arrive, many of the patients are dead and fingers begin to point.
The second part of the book covers the investigations into the allegations of murder or, more charitably, euthanasia, the resultant trial and the aftermath of the verdicts. FIVE DAYS is chilling reading, all the more so because of Fink’s straight forward reporting style. She makes no conclusions of her own, simply letting the participants words and actions speak.
Book groups will find many topics for discussion including euthanasia, DNR directives, patient/doctor relations, decision making in times of extreme distress, preparedness for disaster and governmental readiness.