Sheri Fink discussion

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    Nicole Stuhlmiller

    1.Sheri Fink who conducted 500 interviews as research to later write the book we are now reading, could have been no easy task. Upon doing my own research on our Author, she was no novice when it came to working in less than ideal medical situations. Before becoming a journalist she worked as giving medical aide in different war zones. In one interview that I had read, she stated that what drew her to want to write about Memorial hospital was that she had never heard allegations coming from any hospital as she did about this hospital. That said, the dilemmas that she must have faced would have been many. The first dilemma I feel would have been a preconceived notion/judgment. Fink was no stranger to working under difficult circumstances. Can one go into that situation and not have a feeling of “I would have done this different”. Hindsite is nobody’s friend and can lead to judgment. Those interviewed may also feel judged and not heard. I do believe that she understood that decisions that were made were because there was a lack of leadership and communication. Fear and exhaustion also weigh heavily on the decisions made during this time. To conduct 500 interviews would have taken so much time to complete. Perhaps different people recall things differently. From different perspectives to those memories one may not want to be completely truthful about. I would also surmise that those being interviewed would feel a great sense of loss, and remorse and perhaps feel guilty or defensive. To relive that time must have brought up pain and sorrow from not only the ones being interviewed but her as well.
    The prologue opens with the crux of the life or death issues doctors faced at Memorial Hospital. What questions does the prologue raise for you about Hurricane Katrina? The only feeling I have regarding the prologue is one of sadness. It isn’t fathomable for me to sit back and put myself in the shoes of the medical staff that had to make those impossible decisions. The thought of having to “wing” it and make the best possible choice based on the information you have at hand would have been hard clear-headed. The medical staff was exhausted, scared, and in my opinion in the middle of hell. How can one see and think clearly? I don’t believe you can.
    2. Why do you think doctors like Dr. Pou were ultimately placed in the predicament of prematurely extinguishing the lives of their patients? I don’t feel this was an easy decision. As hard as this is to hear, it’s even harder to actually write…Those who had the greatest chance at survival were saved first as resources and recuse attempts were considered unpredictable. The rationale was that the sickest (terminal) patients may not have survived the rescue and that would have been inhumane. What would you have done given the circumstances? What would I have done under/in those circumstances? I would like to think that I would protect life, even at the expense of my own. At the very least I would have asked the patient what they wanted. Had I been the terminal patient, I would have wanted another life to be saved before my own. It must have been an impossible position to be in. All I can say is it was just recently we hear about this dilemma again with COVID. How do we choose who lives, and who dies? Is this really any different? Who gets the ventilator to live, and who gets the injection so others may live. Same coin.
    Who was given exemptions from the mandatory evacuation? The hospital and its workers were exempt from mandatory evacuation. What “old knowledge” and customs were presented in the book as Hurricane Katrina drew closer? The old Knowledge that was spoken of was referring to the flood/hurricane of 1927 ( lessons learned from that time) and the rest of the hurricanes that battered the area. The old knowledge: to bring animals, family, and food for three days to the hospital. If not in the hospital and one did not evacuate the area, don’t go to the attic, make sure you had an ax or a hammer ( to break free of debris), and last: make sure you fill the bathtub or jugs of water as there will be no drinking water.

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