Bob Herbert tells us how FEMA’s interference killed patients at Methodist Hospital in New Orleans.
[A]ccording to Dr. Albert Barrocas, the chief medical officer, the decline in the well-being of the patients was both palpable and widespread. “All of them were deteriorating in the sense of becoming weak,” he said. “You could see in their faces the fact that they were scared.”
By Tuesday evening four patients had died, and a dozen were dead by the time the hospital was finally evacuated Friday. Doctors believe half of the deaths were caused by the dreadful conditions in the hospital.
Everybody’s suffering would have been eased if the emergency relief effort mounted by the hospital’s owner, Universal Health Services in King of Prussia, Pa., had not been interfered with by FEMA. Company officials sent desperately needed water, food, diesel fuel to power the hospital’s generators and helicopters to ferry in the supplies and evacuate the most vulnerable individuals.
Bruce Gilbert, Universal’s general counsel, told me yesterday, “Those supplies were in fact taken from us by FEMA, and we were unable to get them to the hospital. We then determined that it would be better to send our supplies, food and water to Lafayette [130 miles from New Orleans] and have our helicopters fly them from Lafayette to the hospital.”