Monday, September 19, 2005

Left behind. The least of these.

If some of those who died in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina have been described as stubborn holdouts who ignored an order to evacuate, then these citizens of New Orleans defy that portrait: The 16 whose bodies were wrapped in white sheets in the chapel of Memorial Hospital. The 34 whose corpses were abandoned and floating in St. Rita's Nursing Home. The 15 whose bodies were stored in an operating room turned makeshift morgue at Methodist Hospital.

Tony Carnes/Christianity Today, via Associated Press

The bodies of 16 people were found on Sept. 5 in the chapel of Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans.

“The statement that you can judge a society by the way it treats elders and the vulnerable is a good way to look at our society.” Alice Hedt, National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform executive director

The count does not stop there. Of the dead collected so far in the New Orleans area, more than a quarter of them, or at least 154, are those of patients, mostly elderly, who died in hospitals or nursing homes, according to interviews with officials from 8 area hospitals and 26 nursing homes. By the scores, people without choice of whether to leave or stay perished in New Orleans, trapped in health care facilities and in many cases abandoned by their would-be government rescuers.

New York Times

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