Dr. Fink maintains a reporter’s detachment.... In following the machinations of a central witness — Dr. Frank Minyard, the city coroner, a colorful politician.... Dr. Fink shifts her focus from the horrific conditions in Memorial to considerations of justice. She gives proportional weight to Virginia Rider, a state investigator of Medicare fraud tasked with gathering evidence on the hospital deaths.Dr. Fink may "maintain a reporter’s detachment," but the reviewer, Jason Berry (author of "Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church") gives off a whiff of enthusiasm for euthanasia. Do you notice? Or is it just me? I'm looking for early symptoms of acceptance of euthanasia, which I believe will creep in as we Baby Boomers become more and more of a burden. Berry stresses Fink's evenhandedness, which makes me want to read the book but makes me suspect he'd prefer more opinion. It's fairly mild to say "may suggest a naïveté about the gray area in moral dynamics when things fall apart," but to my perhaps oversensitive perception, it suggests the opinion that sophisticated minds see — in all that complexity and nuance — a place for euthanasia.
“Growing up in a state where politicians exploited every opportunity for corruption, she had deposited her faith in the burnished version of the American justice system her teachers had described in school,” Dr. Fink writes of Ms. Rider. “She believed, even to her ripe old early 40s, that good would prevail over evil. She had given so much of herself to this ideal.”
Ms. Rider’s passion may suggest a naïveté about the gray area in moral dynamics when things fall apart, but her confrontation with Dr. Minyard, after the grand jury refuses to indict, is a stunning scene. Dr. Fink does not condemn those Ms. Rider deemed guilty. But by reporting the depth of those gruesome hours in Memorial before the helicopters came, and giving weight to medical ethics as grounded in the law, Sheri Fink has written an unforgettable story.
September 4, 2013
Sherri Fink's "5 Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital" looks like a great book, based on the description in this NYT review. It appears to be an exciting and subtle account of what happened in an ICU at a hospital after Hurricane Katrina knocked out the power and delayed evacuation for 5 days. A doctor and 2 nurses were arrested for murder, based on the high levels of morphine and other drugs in the bodies of 20 of the 45 patients who died, but the grand jury did not indict them.