Book Club Discusses Ethical Decisions During Hurricane Katrina Crisis Jan. 27

| December 20, 2013

Looking for a compelling read over the holiday break? Consider picking up the next Webster University Book Club title: Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink.

Then join the Book Club on Jan. 27, at noon, in the Library Conference Room to discuss ethics in disaster settings and whether or not we can truly be prepared for all situations. Everyone is welcome.

Starred Review From Booklist:
As the floodwaters rose after Hurricane Katrina, patients, staff, and families who sheltered in New Orleans’ Memorial Hospital faced a crisis far worse than the storm itself. Without power, an evacuation plan, or strong leadership, care giving became chaotic, and exhausted doctors and nurses found it difficult to make even the simplest decisions.

And, when it came to making the hardest decisions, some of them seem to have failed. A number of the patients deemed least likely to survive were injected with lethal combinations of drugs — even as the evacuation finally began in earnest.

Fink, a Pulitzer Prize winner for her reporting on Memorial in the New York Times magazine, offers a stunning re-creation of the storm, its aftermath, and the investigation that followed (one doctor and two nurses were charged with second-degree murder but acquitted by a grand jury).

She evenhandedly compels readers to consider larger questions, not just of ethics but race, resources, history, and what constitutes the greater good, while humanizing the countless smaller tragedies that make up the whole. And, crucially, she provides context, relating how other hospitals fared in similar situations. Both a breathtaking read and an essential book for understanding how people behave in times of crisis.

– Keir Graff

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