Who remembers Hurricane Katrina in 2005? How stupid of a question is that? This tragedy shook the nation, as news footage showed residents of New Orleans waving their arms for help on their roofs surrounded by the flood that broke the levee. The relief provided to NOLA was a disorganized catastrophe, and it led to a complete remake of disaster planning from its gruesome costs.


Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink is a detailed account of the events that happened at Memorial Medical Center when hurricane Katrina hit. Fink gives a report of the evacuations, struggles of the sleep-deprived hospital staff, and the ethical crisis that the doctors and nurses had to experience when prioritizing patient care in a doomed environment.


When I write up a review about a book, I usually like to pick one or two scenes/dialogues that stood out to me. I could do that with this one, but then my review would be at least twenty pages. So in this case, though Fink was quite thorough in her research and delivery of the events that occurred at Memorial Medical Center, I’m left with questions.


How can we truly prioritize where what resources go in an event as devastating as hurricane Katrina? Mainly, in a hospital, where people are in need of such things as life support or critical care, how can we treat them humanely and still respect their wishes when the resources to provide such cares to them runs out? There is no steady rulebook or manual for “the end of the world.” In the case of Memorial Medical Center during hurricane Katrina, their situation could very-well be viewed as the end of their times.


I wish that I could tell you more, but I can’t without going into a forty-page rant/ethical crisis dissertation. I’ve been in the medical field for twelve years now, and I cannot fathom what must have gone through the heads of the staff at Memorial during this disaster. I think that the way Fink ends the book says it best:


“It is hard for any of us to know how we would act under such terrible pressure.

But we, at least, have the luxury to picture in advance how we would want to make the decisions.”


Click the link below to pick up a copy of "5 Days at Memorial"


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Ando Ehlers | 
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