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This is such a sad story - For 5 days Memorial Medical Center became an island in hurricane stricken New Orleans. No running water, no electricity - a city totally unprepared for the tragedy that stuck.
My personal take from this book is that Memorial Medical was in no way equipped to deal with the massive and extended conditions that be fell them. While I was very sympathetic for the staff of Memorial Medical Center, I felt that something did not seem right. Sheri Fink I believe presented a fair and balanced picture of what happened.
I loved the way that Sheri Fink presented so many viewpoints simultaneously. This book doesn't set out to define the events that took place during those five horrible days of confinement at the hospital, as much as presenting as many sides to the story as can be known. Does any one person's viewpoint ever define 'the truth' of a story? Of course not, but the way in which Fink crafts the story makes it easier to see the chaos in which all of these 'truths' lived. Bravo for a next-to-impossible-job well done!
An Inconsistent Mess
I felt like a majority of the book was more rhetoric than fact. I picked up this book looking for the truth not a biased recounting of what happened at Memorial post-Katrina.
Five Days at Memorial
There were many times when the author presents a quote but retracts it later in the book. Not to mention that the tone was one of the judge and the jury as opposed to presenting the facts and letting the reader decide for themselves what the outcome should be. Where does the truth lie? The book provokes more debate than provides answers.
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 Decisions are made and rescinded.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.