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    Rachel Vargo

    1) Sheri Fink must have spent an unimaginable amount of time tracking people down and conducting over 500 interviews. That alone would be challenging, but she then had to take such a large amount of information and condense it all into one book. I am sure she ended up with many interviews that contradicted each other and had stories that didn’t line up. So I think the biggest dilemma she had to endure was depicting facts from bias so she could tell the story accurately. I also imagine there were people unwilling to participate in an interview, so she might have wondered if she was missing anything from them that may have affected the story.

    2) The prologue raised many questions for me and the biggest one being why did the city not prepare their hospital and hospital staff for an extreme hurricane when they had experienced several bad hurricanes in the past and lived in a city that is below sea level? Also if they believed the hospital building itself would withstand the storm, why not keep the most stable patients who need the least care at Memorial, and at least attempt to transfer the sickest/most acute patients to other hospitals or facilities? Dr. Pou and other doctors ended up in this situation due to a complete lack of planning on both the city and hospital’s part. Even the disaster manager of Memorial simply told everyone to get out by nightfall, but with no instructions or further explanation. I would not have done the same given the circumstances for a number of reasons. I believe the families of the sickest patients should have been contacted and involved in the situation. Even though doctors and nurses are trained to do everything possible to improve a patients living and dying, it is absolutely not your decision to decide when a another person’s life is over, no matter how heartbreaking it would be to know that they may suffer.

    3) The mayor exempted hospitals from the mandatory evacuation because it is obvious he didn’t think Katrina would destroy them. Once the hospital became unable to function and everyone needed to leave Memorial, doctors were asked to leave last. New Orleans rejected help from the National Guard and the Red Cross for a terrible hurricane in 1927 with the idea that it would cause the rest of the nation to view them as weak. This belief that they could handle any disaster without assistance ultimately skewed their vision as to how devastating Katrina could be.

    Beverly Cogburn

    Hi Rachel,
    I also was wondering why the hospital turned away help and did not involve families and community members in patient care and decision-making. I am a true believer of asking for help. I know that some people think it makes them appear weak but it actually shows intelligence in the fact that no one can know everything.

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