A Nurse with a Gun

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Strong Did Not Stumble

"This is not euthanasia; this is plain and simple homicide," declared Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti, Jr. in July 2006. Dr. Anna Pou A New Orleans surgeon and two nurses were arrested and accused of second degree murder in the deaths of four critically ill patients under their care at Memorial Medical Center during the desperate days following Hurricane Katrina. The surgeon was led away after a long day of surgery in handcuffs by four armed agents. One nurse was arrested in a similar fashion on the floor of the unit where she worked, the other nurse in front of her children at home. The arrests left patients without primary care providers. Attorney General Foti kept himself in the media limelight, and just two days after the arrests, he hosted a lavish political fund raiser.

During the aftermath of Katrina, there was no electrical power. For five days Memorial Medical was isolated by flood waters, with no rescue in sight. Nursing and medical staff were exhausted, spent. Profoundly ill patients were rapidly deteriorating in horrid 110 degree heat and humidity. At least 40 patients ultimately died at the eight story, 317 bed hospital, which turned into a sweltering refuge for hospital staff, their families and patients.

Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti Jr.'s allegations that Dr. Anna Pou and nurses Lori Budo and Cheri Landry were conspirators in the second degree murder of four critically ill patients was a stark reminder of the responsibility placed on health care workers in dire circumstances. The integrity entrusted to professional health care providers is only needed more at those times.

Lori Budo and Cheri LandryThe DA had already declined to prosecute the nurses, in order to compel them to testify before the grand jury, granting them immunity, and leaving Dr. Pou as the only person accused of murder. Today an Orleans Parish grand jury refused to indict Dr. Anna Pou.

Last week, Dr. Pou brought suit against Charles Foti, stating he played politics with the dead of Hurricane Katrina and with her career, making her a scapegoat in an attempt to direct scrutiny away from the incompetence of many others in the blame days following the disaster.

Good show Dr. Pou. Give them hell. May your place never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

From The Dr. Anna Pou Defense Fund:

Statement by Dr. Anna Pou
July 24, 2007 - CNN
The last 23 months have been very challenging and painful not only for Cherie, Lori and me but also for our families and the family members of those who died at Memorial Hospital during and following Hurricane Katrina. This is not a moment of triumph, but a moment of remembrance for all those who lost their lives during the storm.

We need to remember the magnitude of human suffering that occurred in the city of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina so that we can ensure that this never happens again— and that no health care professional should ever go through this again.

I hope to return to work, doing what I love to do best and hope that the city and medical community continue to heal now that this is behind us.

I would like to thank everyone who has supported me through this trying time—my family, friends, colleagues, patients and total strangers—for their generosity, their love and their prayers and I ask that they continue to pray for all victims of the storm, for our city and for us, as we try to rebuild our lives.

Statement by Rick Simmons
July 24, 2007 - CNN
An Orleans Parish Grand Jury returned a “No True Bill” to allegations against Dr. Anna Pou brought to District Attorney Jordan by Attorney General Charles Foti. This finding by the Grand Jury fully and completely vindicates Dr. Pou of any criminal wrong doing in the wake of a miserably inept response by government at all levels to Hurricane Katrina.

For Dr. Pou and her family, today’s announcement represents the end of 23 months of pain and uncertainty, the hallmarks of which include suffering along with her colleagues, acutely ill patients, and far too many others in the sweltering heat and chaos of Memorial Hospital while local, state and federal governments wrestled and wrangled and twiddled their thumbs as more than forty people succumbed to third world conditions inside the hospital.

Another hallmark of the past 23 months for Anna includes emerging from a day long cancer surgery at Baton Rouge's Earl K. Long Charity Hospital only to be arrested as a common criminal; despite a prior agreement with the Attorney General that she would be allowed the dignity of self-surrender should an arrest become a reality. It should long be noted by anyone who questions the character of Dr. Pou that once arrested; she used her only telephone call to make arrangements for another physician to attend to her cancer surgery patient in her absence.

Yet another hallmark of these past 23 months came just hours after her arrest when Dr. Pou's mug shot was splayed across the screens of televisions around the country with the words "accused of murder" imprinted beneath it. Clearly, for Dr. Pou, it’s been a helluva 23 months.

Today’s events offer no comfort whatsoever for those whose loved ones perished at Memorial Hospital under circumstances falsely described by the state's Attorney General as murder.

The sad reality is that Mr. Foti has done a terrible injustice to the families of those who died at Memorial and other hospitals by building false expectations of having all the answers and by rushing to judge three of the most respected and dedicated medical professionals this city has ever known. It should not be lost on anyone that those who lost loved ones at Memorial suffer still while their search for answers goes on. Our hearts go out to them.

Our thanks go to the Grand Jury, to District Attorney Jordan for viewing this case impartially and to all who have shown such generous support for Dr. Pou for so long.

Rick Simmons
Counsel for Dr. Anna Pou
New Orleans, LA
July 24, 2007

The Man in the Arena- T. Roosevelt

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Blogger Yo' said...

The charges against Dr. Pou and the two nurses were nothing but shameful, and I'm intensely happy that they were found innocent.

My sister is a post-surgical nurse, and deals with many, many gravely ill patients every day. She works her a$$ off to do what's right for those people, because she cares, and it's her job to make their situations as..bearable as possible.

In the wake of that hellacious hurricane, there wasn't much that the medical staff left in the affected area didn't do to attempt to provide care for the sick and injured. Sometimes the best thing you can do for a patient in such an extreme situation is put an end to their suffering before the suffering becomes overwhelming.

Xavier, you talk at times about "seeing the elephant", and how those of us who have not are in no place to judge those who have. I believe this is one of those cases. We have no way to know how much it tore the defendants in this case apart to do what they did, and by the same token we have no idea the amount of courage and compassion it took to make that choice.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Hyunchback said...

AG Foti is one big bag of sh*t for doing this.

What the public seldom learns is that proving one's self innocent in court is potentially ruinous. The legal bills are no doubt astronomical.

Foti should not only be billed for the costs of Dr. Pou's defense but also be billed for the taxpayer money he wasted bringing this perversion of justice to court.

He should have his law license revoked and be forced to take up other work in order to pay for this case.

10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I got this well. Was she cleared from doing actual euthanasia? If not and her case was deliberate euthanasia not some kind of triage, where limited staff and resources were deployed for those hoping recovery I can't see how she holds high moral ground in this case...


6:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xavier, the question is, who decides, and under what circumstances, can or should a life be taken? When is it legal? Ethical? Moral? Constitutional? Is it ever? And by extension, who decides, and under what circumstances, should your other sacred Constitutional rights be denied, and by whom? The visceral realities and images of post-Katrina are no different in the minds of some than the carnage wrought by firearms in the hands of the common man...jtc

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Betty LVN said...

Anna Pou was wrongfully accused in a smear campaign to advance the career of Charles Foti. A no bill from the Grand Jury holds that she committed no murder or no euthanasia, which are the same thing in the state of Louisiana.

Anna Pou was innocent. She performed her duties with the utmost integrity and a rarely seen love for humanity in the midst of utter dispair, hopelessness, and fear for what the immediate future held.

How do I know? I was there. Attorney General Foti was not.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Pam RN said...

I was there as well, on the 6th floor NICU. Dr. Pou, Lori and Sherri deserve our thanks. They provided care when others failed. They have been unjustly prosecuted, persecuted and demonized.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks betty!!

5:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And a thank you from me, too, to all the heroes of this disaster; there is no doubt in my mind of the purity of intent of these amazing health care workers, and Xavier I know that is dear to your heart.

But how to determine when motives are less noble? Attempting to shout down or demonize the efforts of law enforcement to determine whether criminal acts were committed is to assume that decisions of life, death, and liberty are always made with such amazing selflessness. But we know from ongoing Constitutional battles that is not the case.

An interesting case is the capital murder trial of Dr. Ernesto Pinzon ten years ago in Sebring, FL. A google search of his name will lead to a New York Times article and there is more to the story; I was there and have some secondhand knowledge of unreported details; almost certainly proponents of euthanasia successfully shouted down due process and the concerns of law enforcement and the medical community itself to achieve an acquittal. There's a book there for some enterprising investigative crime writer and a lesson for us all...jtc

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Dixie Amazon said...

She stayed when many ran. Way to go Dr. Pou.

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this.

1:41 AM  

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