Monday, January 27, 2014

the last book I ever read (Sheri Fink's Five Days at Memorial, excerpt seven)

from Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink:

Cook sat on the emergency room ramp smoking cigars with another doctor, John Kokemor. The patients were lined up in wheelchairs or sitting before their walkers on mismatched chairs. In their similar blue-patterned hospital gowns, they reminded Cook of a church choir. Help was coming too slowly. There were too many people who needed to leave and weren’t going to make it. It was a desperate situation and Cook saw only two choices: quicken their deaths or abandon them. It had gotten to that point. You couldn’t just leave them. The humane thing seemed to be to put ‘em out.

Cook went to the staging area on the second floor, where Anna Pou and two other doctors were directing care. The area was broiling. Only some older wings of the hospital, built to be “productive of coolness” in the age before ubiquitous air-conditioning, had windows that opened. At first, some staff members had been warned they could be charged with destroying hospital property if they broke windows. Now, patients were moved back, and uniformed men and other eager volunteers crashed chairs, two-by-fours, and an oxygen tank through the tall glass panes into the surrounding moat, punishing the building that had failed to protect them.

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