Prologue through chapter 4

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    Natalie Hernandez
    Participant

    Conducting over 500 interviewers is no walk in the park. Some challenges I imagine she must have faced was organizing all the notes from the multiple interviews in chronological order of events. She would have had to go back and forth between notes to form a timeline and compare notes and interview to get a picture in her head of the occurrence. Finding and contacting everyone involved or present in the first place had also been challenging. With a medical background, however, understanding terminology or what was told to her was probably the easy part.

    Though having a medical background saved her from having to pull out the Webster Medical Dictionary, I can imagine the ethical and moral dilemma she must have internally suffered. As a doctor, like the ones involved, [they] took an oath to do no harm and to use their knowledge and skills to save lives. She must have had a million “why” questions or may not have asked out loud, like why not wait one more day before euthanizing the patients? Or what gave you the right to make that call for them?

    Reading the prologue raised many questions about the storm as well as the competence and morality of the staff. Why did the mayor exempt the hospitals from evacuation? Why were they not more prepared? How does a hospital get to such a horrible state in just 5 days? Had I not known it had only been five days, and I was reading this, I would have thought it was a post-apocalyptic event that had developed over a few weeks or months.

    The description of the situation almost seemed hopeless in some parts. They were “abandoned and forgotten,” as Dr. Thiele stated. In a case like this (it reminded me of the story “Lord of the Flies”), the hierarchy crumbles and unity falls apart, and no one seems to be reasoning anymore. Emotions were high, as well as anxiety and stress levels. It seemed like, at the moment, everyone had concluded that those patients would not make it. All medical training went out the window.

    I am a firm believer in euthanasia under the right circumstances. If I were in the patient’s position, I would not want to suffer or be left for dead or “fend for myself” in such a weakened state. Who knows what would happen? But being in the doctor’s shoes, hearing and knowing that helicopters and boats are coming in and out and that people are being evacuated, I would have fought and done all I could to give my patient a fighting chance. I would not have chosen on my own, either. I would have consulted with family and coworkers and the patient if possible.

    The mayor had given a mandatory evacuation order that covered the whole city, except hospitals and their workers. The prison, tourist hotels, media, city, state, and federal officials were all exempted from the evacuation.

    Hospitals, hotels, and prisons had a higher chance to withstand storms and serve as shelters for those who could not make it out. However, officers were still needed to keep order and ensure the safety of the people. In addition, the media would report the storm’s status and events in real-time.

    The Superdome would be used as a “shelter of last resort.” People with medical conditions were ordered to go there for shelter from the storm.

    “The… president of the parish… warned those who intended to stay to buy an ax pick, or hammer so they could hack their way to their rooftops and no die in their attics like many Hurricane Betsy unfortunates had”. “Baptist memorial hospital was one of the last Southern hospitals to submit to integration.” As a result, Baptist was declared in compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in 1969. “Southern Baptist was reported to have been the first hospital in the southeast to purchase a “crash-cart,” as reported in an article in the local newspaper in 1967. Baptist Hospital was established in March 1926 and was worth $2 million. The hospital “sat in one of the lower parts of a city that dipped below sea level like a basement below the water table.” $15.3 million was spent on the development of the city.

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