natural disasters

Five days at Memorial: when will US hospitals prep for natural disasters?

The horrors of the deadly Hurricane Katrina showed to the entire world what can happen when poor planning and extreme weather collide.

Memorial Hospital, New Orleans’ fortress against even the deadly 1965 Hurricane Betsy, proved that the Katrina storm was far beyond the worst that planners imagined. Facing potential riots and looters, once the flood waters started to rise inside the hospital and there was no water, power, or hope for rescue, those remaining believed there was no hope.

Patients were euthanized. And while those medical officials who brought about the deaths of patients were arrested, they were never put on trial.

Journalist and MD Sheri Fink won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the event, called, “The Deadly Choices at Memorial.” For six more years, Fink has investigated why things at Memorial went so terribly, interviewing more than 500 people and talking with the medical professionals about the choices they made. She joins the Sex, Politics, and Religion Hour to talk about why Katrina should have taught the country how to prevent similar tragedies at other hospitals, and how last year’s Hurricane Sandy illustrated that there have been hardly any improvements since Katrina.


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