Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NICU Trauma: Five Days at Memorial Edition

Last week I read Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink.  Just reading this book was harrowing.  About five pages in I started regretting my decision to read it, but I couldn't stop.  The book includes a really interesting discussion of medical ethics, and a depressing example of how quickly we lose our ability to understand and function within big systems during disasters.

And then there was the evacuation of the preemies.  They were among the first to go, while the hospital still had power.  Nevertheless the evacuation was chaotic and some of the incubators couldn't fit in the helicopter.  In one case, a doctor kangarooed an oxygen dependent baby for an entire ride in an open helicopter.  Terrifying.  That stayed with me, as did the forcible separation of family members from their very sick relatives.  I can understand why a hospital wouldn't want relatives clogging up the joint in the middle of a crisis, but given the way things played out it seems particularly cruel to deny both the sick and their families the comfort of each other.

I know that I would have wanted to be with LB no matter how dangerous the circumstances rather than be separated for days and weeks like some families were.  Devastating.

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