Monday, July 21, 2008

I JUST POSTED YESTERDAY ABOUT LIES BEING PERCEIVED AS TRUTH, AND I MENTIONED KATRINA AS A HUGE FAILING ON THE PART OF THIS ADMINISTRATION. So it was interesting to see this news story, just released...As if we needed any reminder of the utter incompetence, complete lack of care or compassion, or even basic concern, and later, such unrepentant denial ("You're doin' a heckuva job, Brownie").
I follow this story with an update on some brave women. Women who have become priests!
La. doctor cleared in patient deaths recalls storm
By MARY FOSTER, Associated Press Writer

Trapped in a hospital with 2,000 people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Anna Pou recalls her throat burning from the rancid smell.
Toilets had backed up and temperatures in the eight-story building reached almost 110 degrees because the windows didn't open. Power had failed, levees broke and 80 percent of New Orleans was flooded, including the hospital basement where the generators were.
It was completely dark at night. Stories of murders, gangs raping women and children circulated through Memorial Medical Center, where the people, including more than 200 patients, feared for their lives.
Pou, the doctor accused — and later cleared — of giving lethal doses of drugs to four patients during the chaos recalled the four days of misery in a recent interview with The Associated Press. It was her most detailed account of the scene where 34 patients died since the storm three years ago.
"You can't really understand what it was like if you weren't there," Pou said. "Nothing can describe it."
It began as a typical weekend for Pou, who wasn't worried when she made her way to Memorial in August 2005.
Hurricane Katrina appeared headed to Florida. Even when warnings were issued for New Orleans, the respected cancer surgeon never thought of leaving. She stayed with her patients in what would become a personal and professional hell.
After the storm passed Monday, Aug. 29, it seemed the decision not to evacuate patients and staff was a good one. They didn't know levees were collapsing.
"We made it through the storm pretty good," Pou remembered. "On Monday, it was just a little hot, but we had some generators working and food and water twice a day."
By Tuesday, water was rising in the streets, eventually reaching 10 feet. The hospital basement flooded and the generators failed.
When nightfall came, the hospital and the city were in darkness. Water pressure dropped, toilets backed up and the temperatures began to swelter.
"The smell got to be rancid in no time," Pou said. "It burned the back of your throat."
The deteriorating situation had dire consequences. Those trapped in the hospital could hear voices in the dark. People had broken into a credit union office across the street and holed up there.
"We started hearing stories about murders, about gangs raping women and children," Pou said. "The women that had their children there were really scared."
They had a few flashlights but no spare batteries.
"One of the nurses showed me how to bump my foot against the next step to find it," Pou said. "We counted the steps from one floor to another so we wouldn't miss one and fall."
Pou said staff struggled to climb stairwells, carry supplies, and spent two-hour shifts squeezing ventilators to keep patients alive.
"The heat was so terrible, it wore you down," Pou said. "We were trying to keep the patients comfortable. The 9-year-old daughter of one of the nurses even took shifts fanning them."
Airboats evacuated some patients and babies from the nursery, but most remained. All Pou said she could do was try to keep critically ill patients comfortable.
"Tuesday night was when we realized we were going to be there for a while," Pou said.
They gathered supplies, rationed food and water with non-patients, and prayed.
About seven medical staffers, including Pou, stayed with patients. Others went to the roof and the ground floor to coordinate the intermittent rescue efforts with the few boats and helicopters that showed up.
"When a helicopter left, we never knew if they would be back," Pou recalled. "They might be sent to another rescue. And after dark it was too dangerous for them to fly at all."
Under the military's orders, the staff did reverse triage. The healthiest patients were taken out first in an effort to save the greatest number of people.
Many had to be carried to the roof. It was slow, backbreaking work, with as many as 10 people struggling up the dark stairs with a stretcher. At least 34 people died waiting for rescuers.
Pou was one of the last to leave Memorial. She returned to New Orleans — her house had not been flooded — from Baton Rouge a few months later at Thanksgiving. In January 2006, she started working at a Baton Rouge hospital, trying to put Katrina behind her.
Then, in July 2007, she was greeted by four police officers on her arrival home from a 13-hour day of surgery. They handcuffed her, still in her scrubs, and drove her to jail. She was booked on four counts of second-degree murder.
Attorney General Charles Foti accused Pou and two nurses of using a "lethal cocktail" of medication to kill four elderly patients. Pou has always maintained she killed no one during those desperate days, though she acknowledges patients were sedated.
She was forced to give up private practice and started teaching at the LSU medical school in Baton Rouge.
Months of pain and frustration set in.
A year after their arrest, the New Orleans district attorney dropped charges against the nurses, and a grand jury refused to indict Pou. Two civil lawsuits in the deaths are pending.
"I felt very alone," Pou said of her year of fighting the criminal accusations. "Even if people were around me I felt an intense loneliness. It was as if no one knew what I was going through."
Pou's supporters believed she and the nurses acted heroically. A group of doctors and nurses held a rally on the anniversary of her arrest, and hundreds turned in support.
Her experience helped her get landmark state legislation approved to protect the actions of doctors and nurses during disasters.
"It was that support and prayer that got me through it," said Pou, who is back in private practice.
As Katrina's third anniversary nears, Pou said the experience was life-altering.
"I've learned a lot from this," she said. "I thought I had suffered at times in my life, but I had no idea the depths of pain one person could feel. I think that has made me a better person and certainly a
more compassionate doctor."
And now, for something more upbeat....Here's a story that makes me smile. I hope these women will be recognized for the pioneers they are, and welcomed back into the Church. If not, I'll predict right now, that two issues will divide the Roman Catholic Church just as one of them has, in the Episcopal Church:
The issue of women becoming priests(The Episcopal Church has ordained women for over two centuries), and that of LGBT people being ordained, which more than half of all Episcopalians are already doing, and see as positive and good. Unless the Roman Catholic Church fully embraces women being allowed--indeed--encouraged, to serve in any capacity they wish, and unless openly LGBT people are given that same right, the Church will continue to see the kind of mass(and Mass)-exodus that began several years ago when the sex-abuse scandal broke. For now, I celebrate the courage of women who feel called to serve in any religious order. And I especially applaud these women, who listen to, as The Catechism of The Roman Catholic Church ironically instructs, "Your conscience first, the Church, second."
Here's the story:
Group says it ordains 3 women Catholic priests
By STEVE LeBLANC, Associated Press Writer

An activist group hoping to pressure the Roman Catholic church into dropping its long-standing prohibition barring women from the priesthood says it ordained three women on Sunday.
Church officials did not recognize the ordination, and the Vatican has previously warned that women taking part in ordination ceremonies will be excommunicated.
The group known as Roman Catholic Womenpriests held the ceremony at the Church of the Covenant, a Protestant Church in Boston.
The group said the three women — Gloria Carpeneto of Baltimore, Judy Lee of Fort Myers, Fla., and Gabriella Velardi Ward of New York City — are responding to a heartfelt call to serve the church as priests.
A fourth woman, Mary Ann McCarthy Schoettly of Newton, N.J., was ordained as a deacon, the group said.
The Archdiocese of Boston issued a statement decrying the ceremony.
"Catholics who attempt to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the women who attempt to receive a sacred order, are by their own actions separating themselves from the church," the archdiocese said.
The group says the women who are ordained remain loyal members of the church and will act as priests whether they are excommunicated or not.
Sunday's ordination ceremony was performed by two women the group describes as bishops — Ida Raming of Struttgart, Germany, and Dana Reynolds from California.
The ceremony "is not in compliance with their man-made rules, but it's certainly in compliance with the Roman Catholic ordination rituals because our bishops were ordained by all-male Roman Catholic bishops who are in good standing with the church," as provided by the church's ordination rituals, said Bridget Mary Meehan, the group's spokeswoman.
The group, which was formed in 2002, has conducted similar ceremonies in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
In March, the archbishop of St. Louis excommunicated three women — two Americans and a South African who were part of the Womenpriests movement — for participating in a woman's ordination.
Pope Benedict XVI, like his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, has rebuffed calls to change traditional church teachings on the requirement that priests be male.
Catholics who are excommunicated cannot receive sacraments. The penalty can be lifted if those who have been punished are sincerely repentant.
Have a great Monday. Peace, kids.


Pris said...

Many powerful stories here. Thanks for gathering them and putting them in one place. I know what it was like when we were hit here in Florida and lost power during scorching heat for 10 days, no stores open, no gas, trees down, roofs off. It was a cakewalk compared to what New Orleans went through.

Lisa Allender said...

My sis lives in South Florida. I know hurricanes can be really scary, as we grew up in central Florida...and Thank you for the word-up on my blog!

Selma said...

That story about Katrina is simply awful. Unacceptable, really. I feel quite upset after reading it.

Collin said...

That article about the doctor just continues to show how badly the local government and our current administration failed New Orleans completely. It's still hard to believe that happened in America.

Lisa Allender said...

Selma, I know, I know.
Coll, I know--it really was like watching a really awful film about some third-world country(it shouldn't happen there, either!)...