Friday, 28 February 2014

Five days at Memorial - Sheri Fink

First up a confession- I'm a gullible person. I read things, I believe them.
That, in a more unsettled world, could be very dangerous for me.
Fortunately I'm cushioned in the UK.
This means that every non-fiction I read I don't necessarily question until later.
With 5days at Memorial all that changed. I'm halfway through it and I dearly wanted to know what had happened to the doctor, so I googled her. And it's changed my slant for the rest of the book.
Is it just me that does that or are there others out there?
Five days ag Memorial relates the dramatic events unfolding during Hurricane Katrina within one hospital. Lots of research has clearly gone into it and you can feel the heartbreaking frustration of everybody concerned, patients, nurses, doctor, governors, the military and all of the families.
It's a horror story that needed to be told, if only as a concise account to be reviewed in advance of the next natural disaster.
Seemingly little things like the location of the generators- at ground level which very quickly became underwater level, a helipad that hadn't been maintained because it wasn't used, an emergency plan where the boxes had been ticked to gain the accreditation but the thought hadn't gone into it.
All feeding back to the money, move the generators? Cash. Maintain the helipad? Cash. Gain the accreditation? Cash in.
During Hurricane Katrina cash didn't matter in the hospital, after all, what could they buy? But it still mattered outside of it and this is a hospital that's part of a health industry.
There are heroes here, there are victims here, baddies and goodies, ethical dilemmas galore.
What would you do? How would you decide who went first onto a helicopter? Who do you hold back that there may be no helicopter for? Who gets the water? Who doesn't?
An unenviable task undertaken by the staff who are left behind to deal with the catastrophe as best they could.
I'm only halfway through, I've just got to the repercussions after the event. Would you think the staff would be laid off while the hospital is repaired or should they be paid in the interim?
Should a doctor be held to account for decisions made under such pressures? Should anyone who wasn't there really be allowed to judge the actions of the people present? Should they be judged on the numbers that made it out- or he numbers that didn't?
Ultimately it's thought provoking but I would recommend that before you read it you google Dr Anna Pou.
If I was in a disaster I'd quite like that doctor to be dealing with me.

For the Friday 56 Freda's Voice

Page 56

"the walkway's about to collapse. I have to run across it", she said. "Just checking to make sure you all got out"

The exposed sides of the windows shattered under a hail of rocks launched from nearby rooftops. the ICU filled with screams.

Publisher - Atlantic books


  1. I'm Canadian but remember that day Katrina hit very well. Some images will stay with me forever.
    This would be a heartbreaking read, if done right.

    Happy weekend!

  2. My husband's family is from New Orleans, and they actually evacuated and lived with us for a while after the storm. One of my friend's daughters was the head dietician at Tulane, and was stuck there all of those days (downtown New Orleans). So many heartbreaking stories! We lost friends during the storm. It is definitely a story that needs to be told and remembered.

    Thanks so much for linking-up to Literary Friday! We've been in New Orleans since Friday @ Mardi Gras. Happy to be home!