"The longtime chairwoman of the hospital’s emergency-preparedness committee, Mulderick had helped draft Memorial’s emergency plan. But the 246-page document offered no guidance for dealing with a complete power failure or for how to evacuate the hospital if the streets were flooded."
At about 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 31 — nearly 48 hours after Katrina made landfall near New Orleans — Memorial’s backup generators sputtered and stopped… In LifeCare on the seventh floor, critically ill patients began suffering the consequences…
The sun rose and with it the sultry New Orleans temperature, which was on its way to the mid-90s. The hospital was stifling, its walls sweating. Water had stopped flowing from taps, toilets were backed up and the stench of sewage mixed with the odor of hundreds of unwashed bodies…
Pou and her colleagues had little if any training in triage systems and were not guided by any particular triage protocol…
“You can’t do this!” King shouted at Goux. “You gotta help people!” But the family was turned away.
King was out of touch with reality, Cook told me he thought at the time. Memorial wasn’t so much a hospital anymore but a shelter that was running out of supplies and needed to be emptied. Cook also worried that intruders from the neighborhood might ransack the hospital for drugs and people’s valuables.
The people making these decisions had no idea how long they were going to be there. They did know that their ability to keep these patients alive was being limited almost hourly. The options seemed to be either leave patients alone to die without any more pain medication or someone to hold their hand (since the cops were saying that everyone had to be out and they would no longer protect from looters) - or to end that life compassionately.
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