Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Katrina Euthanasia

NPR has a harrowing piece on euthanasia during hurricane Katrina. LifeCare Hospitals could not evacuate critical patients. Gun shots were heard outside of the hospital. The flooding trapped staff and patients.

Angela McManus told NPR of her last moments with her mother.

Angela McManus says three New Orleans police officers approached her with guns drawn and told her she would have to leave. New Orleans police confirm that armed officers did evacuate non-essential staff from the hospital.

Confronted by police, McManus raced to her mother's bed. "I woke her up and I told her that I had to leave, and I told her that it was OK, to go on and be with Jesus, and she understood me because she cried," McManus recalled. "First she screamed, then she cried. And I said, 'Momma, do you understand?' And she said, 'Yes.' And she asked me, she asked me to sing to her one more time. And I did it, and everyone was crying, and then I left. I had to leave her there. The police escorted me seven floors down."

The flooding was so severe that the evacuations were done by boat. McManus states she saw one patient while being transported. The helicopters never arrived while McManus was in the hospital. This was part of the response problem during Katrina. The White House defense was Michael Brown didn't follow the chain of command.

It's hard for me to pass judgement on the doctors and nurses involved. The temperature was over a 100 degrees in the hospital. Living conditions were third world. An autopsy may not determine if the patients were euthanized. The bodies were severely decomposed.

In rated news:

Officials say New Orleans can't handle an influx of traumatized, homeless families, but that may be what it is about to get. Five months after Hurricane Katrina, many of the storm's victims are facing a second crisis. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is ending its hotel subsidy program despite the fact that thousands of Katrina victims have nowhere else to go. Thousands of evacuees will be cut off Feb. 7, and almost all will lose their hotel rooms by early March. Advocates for Katrina evacuees are terrified about what will happen next.

If FEMA deadlines aren't extended, "you're going to see folks homeless -- truly homeless and out on the street," says Mary Joseph, director of the Children's Defense Fund's Katrina Relief and Recovery for Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi. None of New Orleans' homeless shelters are in operation and so all the city can offer is a patch of expensive, rain-soaked parkland. "I am scared," says Tracie Washington, a local civil rights lawyer who has represented Katrina evacuees facing eviction from their hotels. "Every indication says to me that we are headed for a catastrophe if we don't do something quickly."

I don't care what political party you are. How can you not get angry about this? I don't want to hear administration officials say they couldn't do nothing because the chain of command wasn't followed. The Senate report said the problem was FEMA and Homeland Security never had a chain of command. How can these people follow something that doesn't exist?


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