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Check It Out: Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink

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This is Jennifer Havlik with the Sioux City Public Library, and you’re listening to Check It Out. 

Today I’m recommending Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink. This gripping and well-researched account of Memorial Hospital in New Orleans in the days immediately before and after Hurricane Katrina is told from Fink’s Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalism.

We’ve all imagined how we would react in a series of potentially life-threatening scenarios. But what about those working in hospitals with critically ill patients during a destructive hurricane? What happens when the power is lost? The back-up generators are often located in the lowest levels of the hospital. So, when a levee breaks and puts these levels underwater, what options do the doctors and nurses have? When do normal healthcare standards no longer apply?

When conditions in Memorial Hospital turn from uncomfortable to potentially deadly, evacuation resources are stretched thin, and floodwaters aren’t receding quickly enough, Dr. Anna Pou makes a life-altering decision that divides a city and places the healthcare industry against the families of patients they’ve sworn to protect. 

While the book’s focus is the five days at the hospital and the legal battle that begins months later, Fink highlights other social and political issues, including racial and class discrimination, end-of-life care, business self-interest, lack of government resources, and yes, euthanasia. It’s captivating, thought-provoking, true crime. It will leave you asking yourself, “What would I have done?”

You can find Five Days at Memorial by Sherri Fink on the Libby by Overdrive app.  Access thousands of eBooks and audiobooks for free with your library card. This is Jennifer Havlik with the Sioux City Public Library, and you’ve been listening to Check It Out.

Supprot for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Avery Brothers.