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.
Objectively this is a "good book," but I personally had a hard time focusing while reading it. Fink interviewed over 500 people while researching the story, and keeping everyone straight took some effort on my part. That said, it's truly heart wrenching in places and makes you realize how quickly things can fall apart in an emergency situation. You will most likely ask yourself, "What would I have done?," and the answers may disturb you.
Also, just a side note- the cover is not kind to librarians, as the book appears to be water damaged... :)
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.
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.
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.
Read July 2014
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?"
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.
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.
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.
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