Five Days at Memorial

Five Days at Memorial

Life and Death in A Storm-ravaged Hospital

Book - 2013
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racing14 Sep 10, 2018

Makes a great book club selection. Extremely thought provoking and will spark lots of discussion. Raises many questions about ethics, extreme situations and who should be accountable.

Feb 19, 2018

First reaction in a disaster is "DO SOMETHING". Sometimes it's hard to get it right. Second guessing is always easier.

Jan 26, 2018

Heavy going at times.

Nov 05, 2017

We expect to be gripped by books of fiction. We expect that they will leave us sitting at the edge of our chair, biting our nails, gripped by suspense. We hav to not expect this same degree of intensity in non-fiction books. But, non the less, there are exceptions. Consider for example this account of what transpired when Hurricane Katrina, the deadliest US hurricane, struck the Louisiana coast on August 29, 2005.
"Five Days at Memorial" is the story of a New Orleans hospital that lay in its destructive path.The hospital’s municipal power supply failed forcing it to rely on backup generation. It too failed after a short period of time leaving hospital without light; without air conditioning; without elevators; without the electricity need to power a myriad of electrical equipment required to keep seriously ill patients alive. Streets were flooded so evacuation by ambulance was out of the question. Evacuation by helicopter was botched and bungled. The evening air was punctuated with the sound of gunfire --- the fear of looters was endemic among the hospitals staff. All of a sudden, an American hospital had been plunged into the third world.There is, of course, much more to the book that. Why was the hospital not better prepared than it was. Had the nurses and doctors been better prepared. Were good decisions made? Of course great effort was made to dish out blame for what had gone wrong that August and September in New Orleans.

ArapahoeHollyR Aug 03, 2017

What happened to the most vulnerable populations during Hurricane Katrina? Fink offers one answer with this gripping narrative of impossible choices and tragedy at Memorial Hospital. Backed by impressive research and told from multiple perspectives, Fink's book confronts readers with the horrifying reality of a hospital in the midst of a natural disaster.

Apr 06, 2017

A fascinating read from cover to cover, esp if you are in the health care and emergency services profession. Sheri Fink researched this book from all angles: the patient, their family, the healthcare providers, and the administrators. Very well written, not a typical journalist-authored book.
Memorial Hospital spent five days in the wake of Hurricane Katrina without power, flooded and without preparation in place for a large-scale disaster. When rescue finally arrived, 39 of it's end-of-life patients lay dead. Was it palliative care and comfort? Was it euthanasia? A fascinating book about human nature in crisis. Highly recommend.

Jan 28, 2017

From my experience reading this book, it helps to read the last five pages first, to get a better sense of what motived the author. With that purpose in mind, all those dramatic sometimes heart wrenching events depicted will all seem to have more bone and flesh - if not already so. Some important questions, the author is attempting to find the answers for, an invitation to participate, this book, to all of us. It is a milestone.

Aug 04, 2016

Very thick book but is brings the reader into the chaos and fast decision making the situation calls for. The end of life issues are also part of the book that are riveting in them selves.

Jul 26, 2014

Read July 2014
Detailed, suspenseful

A patron review from the Adult Summer Game: "This is an intriguing investigative review of the events following Katrina at a city hospital in New Orleans. The first part of the book is a chronology of events as experienced by the health care workers, and the second half is an objective review of circumstances as seen by investigators. At it's heart is a question that is always timely: how do we provide the best care to the sickest people?"

May 28, 2014

Details the drama unfolding in a very unprepared (due mostly to costs and inaction) hospital during and after Katrina. Lots of incredible, hard-to-believe details about the lives of those trapped during the aftermath of the storm.

Printselectordude Mar 12, 2014

I'm really glad to have read this. I would like to talk to every health professional who cares for me about it -- especially when I'm (eventually) getting long-term-care! I'd like every health pro in my city to have read it should a disaster occur in my community. It made me rethink and want to redo my own power-of-attorney for health care documents. It also made me more willing to cut others some slack should they ever be faced with what the pro's at that hospital faced. I doubt I'd do any better under such pressure than they did.

Feb 13, 2014

Despite the research that went into this book, I found it confused and unfocused. The author shifted constantly from supportive to accusatory, quoted conversations in the second section she had made no reference to in the chronological account of what went on inside Memorial, told us repeatedly what the personal reactions of various players was. Really, is it relevant that an aged coroner had his feelings hurt when the grand jury failed to return an indictment? Is that what justice is about? The crux of this disaster is the US is cursed with a for-profit system of so-called health care. Fink makes it clear that many decisions not to intervene were based on cost considerations. When I worked at Mount Sinai in Toronto, the senior execs visited Poland. Our VP took a look around and said, "if I get a hangnail, medivac me back to Canada." I feel the same way about the US, and this book does make clear that profit comes before patient care.

Jane60201 Jan 20, 2014

This very long book seemed sort of tedious in the first two hundred pages as everything was described in exhaustive detail. It picked up when the legal angles came into play and the points of view of the various parties were analyzed. The best part was the end where more recent disasters were analyzed and the concept of triage more thoroughly explored. There is obviously a lot to be done by all parties to prepare more effectively for a disaster so triage decisions do not have to be made so harshly.

P.S. I think I have to blame Tenet for most of the debacle. They are a really rotten hospital chain in my opinion.

ksoles Dec 23, 2013

With sophistication, meticulous detail and apparent effortlessness, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Sheri Fink has written a harrowing account of the events that unfolded at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina.

Considering the calamitous, lethal circumstances, the tireless staff at Memorial certainly did a remarkable job of saving many lives in the wake of a horrendous storm. But the hospital's policies and procedures sparked national controversy over class and race discrimination in medicine, end-of-life care, medical rationing and euthanasia. "Five Days at Memorial" provides stunningly framed vignettes of specific events as well as sharp profiles of many of the key characters. Fink gives consideration to explosive issues in such a manner that readers can fully fashion their own opinions.

A blend of drama and philosophy, the book poses difficult questions for the medical field: when do normal standards no longer apply? what if doing something seems right but doesn’t feel right? In the ensuing investigation of one doctor, Fink circles all the players, successfully giving much-needed perspective to their views. Ultimately, the usual suspects become the greatest villains: nature, for creating Katrina in the first place, Memorial owner Tenet Healthcare, for failing to act, and government, for its incompetence that led to dozens of deaths.

MrFrida Nov 06, 2013

A very detailed presentation of what happened at the Memorial Medical Center with the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina. The ordeal presented many dilemmas to the staff involved and provides a forum to address critical issues especially advance emergency preparation for natural disasters. A deeply thought provoking and wrenching tale!

Oct 17, 2013

This is an inside look at what happened in the hospital during the disaster of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. This book was very well pull together.It looks at the practical and moral dilemas that take place during a crisis and offers incredible insight.

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