Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Five Days at Memorial:

Doctors playing God and being arrogant about it. Shocking.

Quick synopsis:

A full investigation of Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

The most heartwarming part of the story is when a bunch of hillbillies show up with their boats to help out and promptly start doing it their own way. Sure, you make fun of them 364 days of the year, but that one time you need them….

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

Fink’s entire epilogue is about how we really have not solved the problem with large medical emergencies. In fact, she speaks often about lack of ventilators. New York even procured a bunch of extra ones when they did a test run for a disaster. This book was written in 2013.

My Take on Five Days at Memorial:

Sheri Fink does an absolutely amazing story trying to report the facts straight down the middle. She somehow juggles dozens of people, clearly articulates their thoughts and feelings, and puts everything in perspective in what I felt was extremely fair. As an author, she trusts the reader to make their own judgement based on the circumstances and actions taken.

I am left enraged by the actions of some of the staff at Memorial. While Fink clearly details the stress and uncertainty the entire hospital face, she also points out how other hospitals fared under the same conditions. Some were better, some were worse.

Euthanasia, triaging, and how to allocate scarce resources are the main themes running throughout. There is also the overall theme of being unprepared when things go completely sideways. When you don’t have enough equipment, who lives and who dies?

Without spoiling any more of the details, I will say that I believe people were murdered at Memorial Hospital in the days after Katrina. Read this book and make your own decision.


A must read. Buy it here!

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