John Ridley and Carlton Cuse do some phenomenal work adapting Sheri Fink’s book on how the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina played out in a New Orleans hospital. The shambolic episode – there were no evaluation plans in place – will always be a national disgrace. The doctors and nurses thought that they had survived the hurricane only to be trapped and cut off from the world when the levees broke and flooded the city.
The episode left at least 45 patients dead. The question was whether some of those patients were euthanized before the doctors were forced to leave the hospital.
The acting here is spectacularly good particularly Veriga Farmiga as Dr. Anna Pou, a cancer specialist who, with two nurses, was arrested for injecting several patients with a mixture of morphine and Versed, Julie Ann Emery as nurse Diane Robichaux who managed LifeCare, the section of the hospital where most of the elderly and bedridden (and the dead) were located, Raven Duada as a daughter who has to abandon her dying mother and Cherry Jones as the hospital’s nursing administrator, and incident commander, whose responsibility it was to evacuate hundreds of patients and staff in the space of a few hours.
Unfortunately, although “Five Days at Memorial” follows the investigation of whether Pou was responsible for second-degree murder – the charges were eventually dropped and Pou still practices medicine – we never get a straight answer from either the investigation or from the woman herself as to what exactly went on in those last few hours before the doctors had to leave their patients.
Did she inject the drugs to make her patient’s comfortable until they were able to be evaluated at a later date or did she specifically, and with intent, give them enough medication to kill them? And, if she did, why did she do it? You never find out the answer.
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