Doctors are very important people in the society following their capacity to identify and a find a solution to a condition that interfere with our everyday living. However when they make decisions that seem to shorten rather than increase our life expectancy, questions arise as people of search for truth and justice. The novel titled “Five Days at Memorial” by Frank illustrates how patients died at New Orleans hospital following the disaster of Hurricane Katrina and portrays the quest for justice and truth. The writer describes the lives of those who struggled to survive and maintain life in the midst of chaos. Even though the city was warned of the looming disaster, preparations were made up to best standards but soon facilities were overwhelmed citing the memorial hospital as an example (Sheri). As described, it is evident that in the midst of Hurricane Katrina, the hospital under discussion found itself in a different kind of storm, one that involved individuals and the decisions that they made about the patients entrusted to them.
Hurricane Katrina struck the shores of New Orleans in 2005 and the flood waters rose leading to power failure, temperature increase and the hardworking and exhausted caregivers decided to designate certain patients last for rescue. It was after several months later that several physicians faced criminal investigations based on the allegations that they had deliberately injected many patients with drugs so as to make haste their death (Sheri). Through the writer’s intimate, fair and masterful writing, we get to know of the hidden dilemmas of termination of life care and how America is not prepared to handle large scale disasters and offers recommendations and how we can do better (Sheri).
The text “Five days at Memorial” is a compilation of six years reporting that reveals the mystery of what happened during the disaster of Hurricane Katrina offering the reader with insight of a hospital fighting for its existence and a conversation about the most scaring type of health care rationing. The book gets to transform the readers understanding of human nature at a time of crisis (Boston Globe). The text give a closer look at the hospital, looking keenly at what might have taken place in order to make the Memorial Hospital to have a large number of corpses as compared to any the other hospitals that were struck by Katrina. This mystery warranted for an investigation that is when forensic pathologists discovered ample amount of sedative as well as morphine in some deceased patients that were supposedly murdered. Witnesses describe how they observed how doctors had injected patients with syringes carrying drugs. There was also inferred evidence that suggests that euthanasia would have been a probable reason of some deaths that occurred (Nuland).
The conduct of these doctors bring about various conflicts that present themselves in the midst of a crisis these conflicts include; the conflict between personal moral codes and professional ethic, heart and mind, empathy and religious doctrine, inner convictions and the law. In such a surrounding the very perception of an individual is distorted, this therefore makes one’s responsibility to be on the basis of interpretation and in essence crime can easily be committed. This is what may have happened with both the medical as well as the nursing staff at the Memorial Hospital when Hurricane Katrina struck (Nuland). The Hospital’s personnel were criticized for making inadequate preparation as well as disorganized responses in light of a huge disaster; the guilty party behind poor decision making as well as offenses that might have been undertaken for mercy’s sake was the enormity of the adversity (Nuland).
In New Orleans the Hurricane was not the only problem at the time, there were a series of catastrophes. This meant the hospital was just in a mess, it had the threat of rising contaminated water, there were pets rotting that has been brought for shelter and human waste. The unpleasant smell was indescribable. There was also danger of looters targeting the drug caches of the hospital. The rescuers as well as professional personnel constantly feared for their lives, since there were sporadic gunshots could be heard (Nuland). When the hospital staff were forced to evacuate it was a question of which patients would be taken and which one will be left behind. There was a doctor that admitted to her that despite euthanasia being a crime the next alternative was leaving the patients to die in that inhabitable environment until they or even worse to be eaten by wild animals. After the tragedy a court case followed. At hand was Dr. Anna Pou was a compelling character in this scenario she was accused of administering large dose of medication to some of the patients that were critical. This was to be termed as a homicide in the Memorial hospital. There were also two nurses that were charged with four accounts of murder of the second degree, but the jury did not indict them (Schleier).
Working under such conditions was very stressful as the hospital was without electricity, many a time it was in darkness. Doctors as well as nurses that were sleep deprived worked tirelessly many at times vain to take care of the patients in the hospitals. Decisions as well as actions were undertaken hastily with much uncertainty surrounding them; therefore judgments that are poor are bound to be made under such extreme conditions. Citizen then after understanding these strenuous conditions that the hospitals staff worked under they were them termed as heroic (Nuland).
Sheri Fink capture the facts of the confusion and the tragedy that unfolded in the hospital at the time, she is able to capture the description of her witnesses in vivid details and relay them to the reader without distorting them so that they can get a clear picture and the emotion that took place in the hospital. She also gives both side of the situation in the Memorial hospital so that the reader can make one own judgments. The issue of disaster preparedness also comes into play as there was no organized as well as fall back system that would have been used to ensure that both the staff had a place that they could stay in until they weathered the storm that was not dark as well as ample storage o usable water. There is also the climate change where the climate continues to be hostile, there adequate measure are to be put in place to mitigate its effects as much as possible to reduce the effects of Hurricanes such as Katrina.
Boston Globe. Five aadays at Memorial by Sheri Fink. 2013 September 14. Retrieved from http://www.bostonglobe.com/html. paragraph 1-4 on 5/1/2014.
Nuland, Sherwin B. "Sheri Fink's Five Days at Memorial." 5 September 2009. Retrieved fromn www.nytimes.com. http://www.nytimes.com.paragraph 2-6 on 5/1/2014.
Schleier, Curt. "Five Days at Memorial Hospital." Examination of a New Orleans Hospital Aftermath of Katrina (2009): page 15-20.
Sheri, Fink. Five Days memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Raveged Hospital. Crown publishing group, 2013. 40-52.