15 thoughts on “Death, not Evacuation

  1. Jesus Christ.

    The comments on the NYT article are even more disturbing than the article, if that’s possible. Demands that we not question the “hero doctors” who killed these people.

  2. I spent the quiet hours of the night, while my husband and daughter slept, reading that NYT article. Doing so has rendered me sleepless as I contemplate the brevity of such a tragedy occuring in that far off, isolated, Third World country…..oh…wait a minute…..that actually happened HERE…in the United States!?!?!

    Seriously, the image of President Bush flying overhead on Air Force One while doctors below were injecting obese, terminally ill, and just plain “difficult to move” patients, will stick with me forever. I vividly remember seeing that photo op on the news during Katrina, and I actually shouted at the tv “Land that plane already and REALLY see for yourself!”. That was before I knew about the death doctors in that hospital.

    I just can’t get over the depth of hell that Katrina brought to real, flesh and blood people. I realize that article was written by a physician who wasn’t there. I realize that the medical staff that stayed during the evacuation had little to no sleep, limited supplies (though an abundance of morphine and lorazapam), toilets backing up raw sewage into a hospital environment, gunfire erupting during the night, and a whole host of deplorable conditions everywhere. I realize that they were in survival mode, panicked, unsure about whether or not help would be coming….and it SHOULD have come…much sooner than it did. In fact, it should have been overseen by the military and FEMA. But when you look at the number of dead from this hospital alone, compared to the number that died at other hospitals (roughly 3xs more) it’s obvious there were more mitigating factors here. This was on purpose….for a whole host of reasons.

    What I don’t get is how the doctors could make such heinous decisions as to decide that the sickest patients should be the last to leave. Isn’t that the opposite of what standard evacuation protocol recommends? These doctors summarily decided to categorize patients as “unworthy” of evacuation because they were terminal and hard to move. Doesn’t the term DNR imply that if a major health event (NOT a hurricane, I’m pretty sure) occurs within their body (i.e. heart stoppage, respiratory arrest, etc.) as a result of their illness, then they wish for there to be no medical intervention?? Euthanizing them because of mobility issues is just…well…murder in my opinion.

    I kept saying to myself, while reading the article, “This is someone’s mother/father/grandmother/brother/sister/uncle…”.
    This article confirmed to me, in no uncertain terms, that someone my size (400#) is viewed by many others as non-human, unworthy, and expendable….and solidifies my resolve to fight even harder for fat acceptance and my own needs in life.

    As for many of the comments following the article? And the death doctor now lobbying for legislation making health workers immune from criminal and civil liability? There are no words for the criminality of them, in my very strong opinion.

    You’re right….I won’t ever leave a severely ill loved alone in a hospital……and I don’t ever want to be that severely ill person without an advocate.

    Tragic. Just. Tragic.

    *sorry for the ramble…this just got to me in a profound way.

  3. I made the mistake of reading that article on my lunch break. I had to take a walk to clear my head afterwards.
    So many things went wrong. I was out of the country at the time, watching some of it on TV in a language I’m barely fluent in, and before the storm hit, I said to the family members who were asking me about it, oh, it will be okay, they will evacuate everyone. I didn’t realize how incompetent and uncaring and cruel and inhumane “they” were at the time.
    I was also struck in the article that race was mostly only noted if the person was black, but almost no other race was mentioned (such as if a doctor was white), and that weight was only mentioned if a person was 300 pounds or more or considered “heavyset.” The idea that in a flood-prone city, the only way to evacuate from the roof was through a 3 foot by 3 foot hole demonstrates a whole other level of poor planning.
    It makes me want to be on a hospital board, to make sure that the proper evaucation procedures are planned in advance, that equipment that can handle ANY size or condition of patient is available in every case. The idea that just because hospital staff couldn’t move a very large patient doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have asked for help.
    When people get overwhelmed is exactly when prejudices and biases and automatic thinking take over, which is why these things need to be thought through in advance.
    I have my own biases against for-profit hospitals and for-profit health care in general, and this article reinforced those. I’m sure there are good doctors associated with some of these hospitals, and for sure, public and not-for-profit care can be substandard.
    Maybe I should get involved in emergency planning in my community. I think that when people make assumptions about what other people are interested in or capable of doing (i.e. if several volunteers would move someone who was both large and housebound in an emergency evacuation) they are selling everyone short — I think planning exercises can bring these sorts of things out in the open and give people a chance to examine them before the emergency.
    I’m somewhat worried about the whole H1N1 (swine) flu and how very fat people will be perceived and treated. I could see a scenario where treatment was delayed or denied or misadministered for someone who had complications from H1N1 due to chronic illness that is co-occuring with fatness (i.e. diabetes, asthma, heart disease) and the doctors and nurses treating the patient regard it as “their fault” (different than how they would regard a child or pregnant woman with the same complications).

  4. This article confirmed to me, in no uncertain terms, that someone my size (400#) is viewed by many others as non-human, unworthy, and expendable

    Frightening, isn’t it? And it’s no surprise that the commenters agree with the medical staff because most, if not all of them assume they were going to die anyway and once you get past 300 lbs, well, that’s not living anyway.

    This is yet another reason why we need more very large people speaking up and out, shattering the stereotypes of us as sick bedridden blobs. Even though a percentage of people out there are bedridden with limited mobility, it’s the exception to the rule. I think people would be surprised how many of us are out and about, doing what thinner folk do, while being 300 lbs or more. The perception of fat in this country is extremely warped.

  5. After I read that over at Shinobi’s, I kept thinking about last year when I had my leg injury and I was unable to walk and confined to bed in the hospital on pain meds (after six surgeries with an extermal fixator on my leg and suction tubes in it) and I realized that they may have killed me. Had I been in that hospital, a 47 year old morbidly obese active healthy woman with a complex fracture and compartment syndrome, they might have deemed me too difficult to move and done me like they did Emmet Everett. It was a shocker.

  6. This is so shocking & unspeakably terrible. These people should be prosecuted for murder, but of course they will not be.

    As for people needing to be shown/reminded what people of various sizes can do & accomplish & how full & meaningful their lives can be, I am reminded of a topic on the old Fat!So? Gabcafe bulletin board, called, “Things I can do at 250…350…pounds” & the eye-opening & inspiring posts made by many people, some of whom were twice my size & more, who were active, vital, healthy, living good, rich, full lives, in some cases doing things which I, living with cerebral palsy, am physically incapable of doing. (Which brings up another point with these heartless, uncaring medical practitioners….those with disabilities are also, I am sure, expendable, & someone who is fat & disabled is doublys so). Believe me, all these people with whom I had the honor of sharing posts over many years were lives worth saving, at whatever weight they were! It is unspeakable, unthinkable, & criminal that people should be considered unworthy of saving because of their size or age or health issues just because someone doesn’t want to be ‘bothered’ to make the effort & be inconvenienced by doing the right, the humane thing.

  7. This is one of the most horrible things I have ever read. I would also like to emphasize that no one should ever leave a loved one unattended in a hospital. January 21, 2007, my dad was admitted into a university hospital for back pain (compression fracture). Within a week he developed MRSA from an infected IV line. If my family did not split our time between hospital visits he would have never eaten, had the bedpan given to him or removed after he was done for that matter, or had his room cleaned. Long awful story short. He died in the same hospital’s MICU on March 25th, 2007 from complications of the MRSA. Yes that’s right two months from OMG my back pain is unbearable to dead. If you have a loved one in any type of medical facility make sure you keep on top of the staff, including the doctors. I could tell you some stories. And yes dad was fat, but only 61, I may add. With all the medical complications that he had I am sure that he would have been “euthanized” rather than evacuated also. It’s being able to put yourself and or your loved ones into the places of these poor people who were killed because they were inconveniant. This makes me fear universal health care all the more.

    Sorry for the rant, but like most of you this really hit home with me.

    • I’m truly sorry about your Dad catgal. It sounds like your family did as much as humanly possible to ensure your father got the treatment he needed…even though that shouldn’t have been your job, I’m glad he had all of you as his advocate. *hugs*

      catgal: “It’s being able to put yourself and or your loved ones into the places of these poor people who were killed because they were inconveniant. ”

      THIS. Such a simple thing to do…yet so routinely NOT done. I know, because I have seen them firsthand, that there are compassionate, empathy-filled, devoted health care workers in medicine. I seek those professionals out when searching for a doctor for myself or my loved ones. Yet, the battle is not as simple because they are becoming harder to find.

      There has always been this small voice in the back of my head regarding the death of my own mother. She had her first heart attack at 69 that left permanent damage. She fought back hard, quit smoking, ate less junk foods, and exercised more regularly. Even so, she shortly endured a second, more damaging heart attack 18 months later that damaged 90% of her heart. My family sat vigil with her for 5 weeks. She died during the ONLY night she was alone. I’ve comforted myself by believing that Mom hung on for us, but there’s still that little voice that says it’s possible matters were “accelerated”.

      • I am so sorry to hear about what happened to your mom. I am sure you can truly understand my story about my dad. And I can feel some of the pain you went through. I wish you healing.

        My dad was declining and we signed the DNR. They asked us if we wanted them to give him a blood pressure elevator at a level that was higher than what it is approved for. We said no. We knew it was the end. His family came said their final words, and left. We all said our final words and since we could not stay by his bedside, went home not knowing if we would be going back in the morning. We got the call about an hour or so after we left. I also though that he waited until we were gone to save us the trauma, but after reading this article, I now have to wonder…

  8. I’m gonna copy/pasta what I said on Shinobi’s site, so if you read it there, you can just tl;dr it:

    Wow. I could almost-almost-understand the case with Janine Burgess, since she had terminal cancer and signed a DNR. Though not performing heroic life saving actions is NOT the same as euthanizing her, of course. However, they straight up murdered Emmet Everett. He must have been so terrified in those moments when he realized he was injected with a fatal cocktail. That was at least 2nd degree murder in my eyes. In the case of Rodney Scott, I’m betting someone who didn’t approve of this angel of death crap was hovering over the doctors at that point, which is prolly why he survived. These doctors should be on trial for murder.

  9. I’ve been thinking about it some more, and this just brings up all my fears about being helpless with medical personnel who (the polling that has been done on this tells me) feel so much revulsion at people my size that they don’t even want to touch us. If I’m conscious and physically able to resist, that’s one thing. But if I’m ever helpless and unconscious or injured or sick, in a hospital, am I going to be safe?

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