NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Friday, October 11, 2013

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink

3.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing report examines moral and ethical quandaries during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath...
This nonfiction account of life and death at Memorial Hospital during the 5 days following the natural disaster is divided into two main sections. The first deals with the events at the hospital and the second probes the investigative and legal proceedings involving staff at the hospital. I found the account compelling and extremely disquieting as the horrors of trying to care for extremely sick patients in those dire circumstances was recounted. I experienced many emotions while reading this very extensively researched book, but chief among them was a voice in my head that kept repeating - DON'T JUDGE. I was not there, I did not see or hear or smell the humanity in that hospital. I was not called upon to serve during the horrendous 5 days that those people were all trapped in that hospital without so many of the necessary things needed to provide patient care. When basic needs cannot be met, when staff is confused and exhausted, when the demands of the job surpass every bit of spiritual, mental and physical capacity the health care provider has -- what then? Examining the situation after the fact is much easier than dealing with an evolving life and death drama. Even with training, it would be difficult to be fully prepared to deal with everything that happened in Memorial Hospital over that 5 day period. I am glad I don't have to try to defend or condemn anyone for their actions, or lack thereof, because I imagine there are many who bear the burden of guilt for the way and the why of it.

Each person who reads this, and I recommend that you do, will take away his or her own analysis and assessment of what happened there and who was responsible. Collectively there is a lot of blame to go around, but individuals will always need to examine their own consciences and follow legal and societal guidelines whenever moral and ethical questions arise.

This would make a great book for a book club, but more so, I hope it will provide a touchstone for good debate on what constitutes ordinary vs extraordinary means, how does one assess the value of a life, and what explicit boundaries need to be firmly put in place.

3.5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for the ebook ARC to review.

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