The 8th and final episode of “Five Days at Memorial” begins with Dr. Horace’s dauntless statement that all the decisions made during the aftermath of the hurricane on September 1, were horrible and anarchic. We have already seen this particular scene earlier in Episode 6. He recalled that on the fifth and the final day of Memorial, when he was requested to be evacuated, he faced a ton of guilt. But not being there for the very last minute saved him. He believed he had rescued himself from further blame. Dr. Horace was a dignified person and a responsible doctor with integrity and ethics, so it is evident that he would not have allowed fellow doctors to take “merciful” measures, even when some of the stable patients were Dr. Horace’s own. It is clear enough why he was forced to evacuate.
How Does The Investigation Continue? Is Anna Going To Get Away With It?
The scene shifts to Baton Rouge, 11 months after Katrina, on July 18, 2006. The attorney general of the Louisiana Medical Fraud Unit details the incident at a conference, unveiling the investigation and evidence of getting a “lethal cocktail” from corpses. After repeatedly mistaking the names of the hospital and medicine, the Attorney General announces the death as a homicide in which Dr. Anna Pou and two other nurses from Memorial are alleged. He furthermore clarifies that the case will be taken over by Eddie Jordan, the District Attorney, who will decide to place indictments from a grand jury in Orleans Parish. Here at Anna’s attorney, Richard Simmon’s office, while the media starts buzzing in, he sort of promulgates Dr. Pou’s heroism and defends her from any kind of accusation. Of course, that’s what he’s paid for. He asserts that his client is innocent and that no matter what the allegations are, there is no criminal conviction. He assumes that people stick to one side, denying Pou’s efforts in the post-hurricane situation.
Meanwhile, Dr. Anna Pou, who is currently on temporary bail, is worried about the repeated external calls and surveillance outside her home. Her anxiety is also shared by her husband, Vince. But here’s a thing to be discussed that you’ll see: in every profession where people try to compete with each other from the same background, we have always seen in medical professionals that unity is a big thing. Doctors stand by doctors no matter what they do. If they don’t stand up for others, they’re going to lose their place of faith in the human mind. Anna Pou’s matter is no exception. She gets a call from an otolaryngologist, Dan Nuss, who assures her that all her fellow doctors are on her side, arranging a defense fund to get her out of the mess as soon as possible. Anna humbly accepts their support.
How Does The Investigation Stop Despite Having Evidence?
Virginia and Arthur Schafer, on the other hand, are worried about the DA, Eddie Jordan. For Anna Pou’s sentencing, the Coroner’s Office must gather all of the patient’s homicide reports so that they can give full testimony. Each pathologist expert in Coroner Frank Minyard’s office comes up with the conclusion to identify the deaths as homicide. Patients from McManus to Emmett Everett each had lethal drug traces in their vital organs, without any prescription or need for the doses. Frank repeatedly questions whether it is valid to analyze, but since the matter is crystal clear, he seems forced to comply. But the Assistant District Attorney, Mr. Morales, has already reached the office. He will prosecute the case on behalf of the DA. Arthur and Virginia, seeing the lack of enthusiasm of the District Attorney in such a critical case, lose their calm, but Morales strictly implies that these cases do not seem like homicide. Arthur realizes that the prosecution is starting to weaken. So, he realizes, so does the investigation. The investigating team is told to stop further investigation as the District Attorney announces that it is not needed anymore. Virginia argues about the fifty thousand pages of evidence that they came up with in the coroner’s office; Arthur replies that they were told to send a brief out of it.
How Does Anna Captivate People’s Minds? Why Did Virginia Quit?
Finally, Richard suggests to Anna that she needs to create her own image as other families of the dead, like Emmett’s wife, are trying to sue her. He invites Anna for an interview on a media channel called “60 Minutes,” where Anna presents her best performance. Anna, in front of the whole wide world, on the channel ’60 Minutes’, denies her ability to euthanize patients as she doesn’t believe in it. She once again asserts her heroic actions during Hurricane Katrina, saying that all she could think about was comforting the patients at that moment. She believed she could ease her patient’s pain, and that’s what she did. While she is restricted from practicing medicine anymore, she shows her fragile and vulnerable side in coping with the decision. Her interaction with the media looks so enthralling that Frank decides to stand by her side. Surely, many more would have thought so.
In the meantime, Virginia gets all the final reports of toxicology that she cheerfully informs Arthur about, but he becomes pragmatic. He practically signifies that none of this evidence is indisputable because the whole world assumes Anna as a hero who is not responsible for going to jail. He asks Virginia what about the corporate people or government itself, who didn’t take a step forward in those storm-ravaged days, so arresting Anna wouldn’t be enough for them to do. Virginia, seeing no hope in the case, goes off. On her way home, she breaks down when she hears the news on the radio. She hears that Frank Minyard has announced that no evidence of homicide has been found in the deaths of Memorial. She cannot hold herself anymore and drives through New Orleans to reach the coroner’s office. She confronts Frank, asking what he could say about that. Frank says he has his piece to deal with the situation. He believes that what he has done is absolutely correct, because if Anna Pou is arrested, doctors may be afraid to intervene in the next natural disaster for fear of criminal prosecution. Virginia, furious with him, realizes that her investigation into the politics and partiality of powerful men will not survive. She tells Arthur that she has quit.
How Does Anna Survive Despite Being Accused Of Second-Degree Murder?
Of course, even though different people appear to have different views, the different views of one are evident here. Frank, being totally conflicted between what he should do and what he shouldn’t, rephrases his announcement so that though he had said about finding no evidence of homicide, he clarifies that the investigation must be continued to come up with a proper conclusion as there might be any traces of homicide. Anna understands she’d better get to work rather than concentrate on people’s altering opinions. The case has now reached the Grand Jury, where they have already started the process of hearing the evidence, and then they will proceed with the verdict of an indictment. It happens in a closed room with the utmost secrecy, so Richard Simmon cannot even inform Anna of anything. But Anna diverts her mind by working in her hospital and performing her surgeries. Finally, on July 24, 2007, the Grand Jury passed the verdict of no indictment and no criminal charges on Dr. Pou. When Richard informs Anna of the news, she is elated and cannot stop thanking God enough. The attorney general of the Louisiana Medical Fraud Unit strongly disagrees with Anna’s acquittal or the grand jury’s erroneous decision. He says that, under any circumstances, taking human life is a grave injustice. There, the district attorney, failing to present forensic evidence to the court, passes such a wrongful verdict. Later, Arthur, bidding goodbye to Virginia, informs her that among all the findings, Kristy Johnson, medical director of LifeCare, who was an eyewitness to Anna’s deeds, remains completely unmentioned in the investigation. Both Arthur and Virginia move on as they have no longing for the case.
Meanwhile, Virginia visits Mrs. Everett and apologizes for the injustice that was beyond her control. Everett assures her that she will not hold grudges because she is ready to wait longer to get justice for her husband.
‘Five Days At Memorial’ Ending Explained: Is Anna Guilty?
A year later, Anna Pou is honored for her heroism by the healthcare industry, and she accepts it. She delivers her speech on how Hurricane Katrina left a mark on their lives and how they struggled at Memorial Hospital. She says that on Thursday, the last day, when the evacuation suddenly stopped, after that, FEMA called and said that all people from the hospital had to be evacuated immediately. The coast guard stopped sending their helicopters, even though she did not know that the coast guard helicopters don’t fly at night. She continues to comment that they did not get the amount of support they deserved. Due to the government’s negligence and their wrong decisions, they completely took measures on their own. But she ended her speech by thanking everyone for the support she received after her arrest, for whom she was rescued. The entire hall erupts into applause, but only the present, Dr. Horace, stays quiet. He waits to speak to Anna in private.
Finally, he grabs the moment to talk to Anna. He confronts her with the truth bomb that Anna didn’t expect to hear from him. He says that FEMA didn’t send those boats, nor did they call them. Their phones were not even working that day while all the power went off. It was also enunciated that coast guard helicopters actually fly at night using night vision. We can vividly remember the conversation in previous episodes, where Susan told the doctors about how she didn’t want any of the patients to get rescued at night. So, Anna clearly knows the fact. Horace avoids any plausible argument and walks away. Anna, with a guilty imprint on her face, remains silent in a dazzling cheerful party going on around her.
Final Words: How Are We Supposed To Manage The Disaster? Is There Any Plan?
This journey ends with “Five Days at Memorial,” which shows some real footage and some information at the end that lets us know what preventive measures were taken after that; from 2006 to 2018, changes were made to the architecture of New Orleans, under the initiative of the Army Corps of Engineers, to create a chain of new levees and floodwalls to prevent flooding. Moreover, due to poor ground and increased flood water levels, the project will need to be upgraded by 2023. However, medical facilities during a calamity remain a blur.
Anna Pou’s incident in medical history not only created a stir but also forced the medical authorities to face a difficult question, namely, how to escape from this situation. In pointing the finger at the doctors’ decisions, we might forget, in the first place, about Hurricane Katrina and the unstoppable floods. When Horace tells Ewing that it should be discussed, he avoids it altogether. And that, my friend, is where the problem lies. In this regard, Sheri Fink, author of the book “Five Days at Memorial, Life, and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital,” points out what measures medical authorities should take to rescue their patients during a natural disaster. In particular, her book mentions how to apply decision-making and personal planning skills in such situations. The contingency plan and hospital infrastructure are topics she talks about. She said that hospital retrofitting can incur a lot of expenses, for which natural calamity measures should be planned from the time of hospital manufacture. She researched the topic for about six years before writing her book, so she demands the same from the medical fraternity to provide and acquire educational research on the topic that informs and prepares doctors and nurses for disaster management.
“Five Days at Memorial” teaches the dark side of the facility. How a horrific disaster made so many people suffer, where some powerful people got away with it, and some others ended up being in an expiry statistic. The show ends here in its eighth episode, but it doesn’t end by haunting us with those five days when remembered. We are enriched with a great experience mixed with emotions and doubts throughout the series. So, it would be great if this series could be taken not as entertainment but as education so that any doctor or nurse would think twice before making any stubborn decision, no matter how powerful they are.