Katrina Deaths at New Orleans Hospital Revisited

triageFrom On The Media
When New Orleans flooded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, patients and doctors at the Memorial Medical Center were stranded without power and facing dwindling supplies of medicine. By the time the ordeal was over, as many as eleven elderly, mostly Black patients were dead – some, it was charged, euthanized by medical personnel.
Katrina Deaths at New Orleans Hospital Revisited
From On The Media
He asked his nurses, he said: don't let them leave me behind.”
ProPublica’s Sheri Fink won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the story. She was recently interviewed on National Public Radio’s “On The Media” program by host Bob Garfield.
From the interview:
BOB GARFIELD: The story gets particularly chilling as you discuss one patient, a man named Emmett Everett, who was paraplegic and scheduled for some difficult surgery but also alert and actually quite jolly, you know, a day or two before he was, I guess, lethally injected.
DR. SHERI FINK: Mr. Everett was a man in his mid-60s. He had something called a spinal cord stroke, which is very rare, but it left him paraplegic, and also he had grown quite obese. The morning before he died, he had fed himself breakfast. He had no medical complaints that morning, aside from dizziness, according to the medical staff who were interviewed by investigators after these events. And he could hear that morning when the helicopters finally arrived, one after the other, taking people away. He asked his nurses, he said: don't let them leave me behind.
Reportedly, a doctor and two nurses who came up to the seventh floor to discuss the situation of the seven patients who were still there assumed that everybody on that floor was really, really sick and was out of it, was unconscious. And the people who actually cared for those patients, they say they told this doctor, well, we have one patient who doesn't fit that category at all. He's actually alert, but he's quite obese.
And at that point, according to several sources, there was a discussion about could we get Mr. Everett out. The way that the evacuations were working was that patients would have to be walked down the stairways because, of course, there were no elevators, down to a second floor, put through a little hole that was a shortcut into the parking garage, then driven up to the top of the garage, carried up two flights of stairs and then evacuated off the helipad. And they just decided that would just be - not possible.
Dr. Anna Pou who was kind of at the center of these events, because she was arrested and accused of murder, she, according to the witnesses - and Dr. Pou, will not discuss this, of course - but they said that Dr. Pou took these drugs, morphine and Midazolam, and went into Mr. Everett's room, closed the door, and several hours later he was seen by other staff to have died.
(While Emmett Everett was "too big" to evacuate his corpse was not "too big" to hide. All the patients that Memorial staff were accused of killing were carried seven floors to the first floor Chapel before the hospital closed. No state official was notified that there were 31 dead bodies in the Chapel. The district attorney refused charges in all these cases after the New York Times Magazine story.)



I have been upset that the story by Dr. Fink rec'd the Pulitzer

Prize recently.  The story on ProPublica and NYTimes (jointly done) was slanted. The point of view was, "pity the poor doctor who 'had' difficult choices' " - bullchips, I say.  I had difficulty in getting a comment posted on ProPublica in protest, at the time the article was posted there.  I posted comments on www.notdeadyet.org    As a person with severe disabling illness, I can identify with the murdered.  Around the time of the murdering of the patients, Bill Quigley was being interviewed on DemocracyNow by Amy Goodman, on the aftermath of the flooding.  He mentioned the talk going around the hospital about patients being killed.  He was there because his wife was a nurse at the Memorial Hospital and he stayed with her.  One of the nasty ideas in the Fink article was the implication that there were no witnesses. Besides the dead, I add.  But staff knew/saw.  It was failure of a grand jury to indict.  No justice for the murdered.  What is the life of a person who is ill/disabled worth in this society? 
P.S. There was another article at the same time, on ProPublica, I think, to a plan by the NYS Dept. of Health for how to proceed in an emergency in NYS.  One horrifying point was that someone who came in to a hospital or emergency center who uses breathing machinery (for their disabilty, their own equipment), would have their breathing machine taken away from them for use on someone else, as deemed fit by the hospital staff or emergency personnel - even if the person coming in who is using the equipment is in no danger of dying.  Many people who are disabled and otherwise "healthy" need to use breathing equipment, (due to paralysis, etc.).  Taking away someone's breathing machinery would be killing them.

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