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    Tina Vaillancourt

    1. It seems to me that the hospital decided to turn people away for safety reasons and race didn’t seem to be a factor in the decision-making process. In one instance the hospital did accept the black woman who was floating on a mattress when they could have rejected her. Clearly, Dr. King, who was the only African-American doctor on duty, felt that racism was a factor because they were turning away black people, but Karen Wynn (who was also a person of color) did not believe that to be the case. I think the reason most of the people who were denied access were black is because that was the population that the hospital severed and the decision to turn people away was truly motivated by safety concerns.

    2. I don’t know if it was necessary to euthanize all of the pets but I do believe it was the humane thing to do. Dr. Cook made the decision to euthanize the two golden retrievers that were left behind by their owners because they had asked him not to abandon them or let them suffer alone. In the middle of such chaos it is hard to imagine any other alternatives and the people would only suffer more if they had to worry about their pets drowning or starving to death. One possible alternative would have been to allow the able-bodied people to evacuate with their pets. For many people, myself included, pets are a part of the family but I am not sure you can equate them with human life under these circumstances.

    3. As a person in charge of everyone’s health and safety I can understand Dr. Cook’s lack of compassion on some level but, ultimately, I believe it is possible to hold the view that Merle Lagasse was dying of cancer and was somebody’s mother. As health care professionals we are given the responsibility of caring for all patients and at the end of the day every patient is somebody’s mother or loved one. We all deserve to die with dignity, compassion and to be treated with respect, regardless of whether you have a terminal illness or you’re facing a natural disaster.

    4. There were many factors that continued to plague communications during the disaster. The Coast Guard’s air station, where helicopters were staging, had been damaged by the hurricane and its’ radio antenna was down. Since the generators kept failing, the fixed telephone lines were out and the station commanders had only intermittent contact with their superiors via satellite and cell phones. The pilots on the Coast Guard response unit only had communication when they were in flight, so they were working freelance much of the time. To make matters worse, federal, state and local communication systems were inoperable and the software that authorities were attempting to use to manage the disaster did not sort information in a shareable way. Multiple agencies and officials appeared to be maintaining separate priority lists for the hospital evacuation which added to the confusion of whether Memorial Hospital was first, second or last on the “list” of priorities. Also, communication between agencies and hospitals were not always clear or up-to-date. During the disaster there was no chain off command to facilitate communication and the spread of rumors also added to the problem.

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