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Sheri Fink    

Pulitzer Prize Winner, Best-Selling Author & Journalist

Winner of a Pulitzer Prize for journalism and a National Magazine Award, Sheri Fink is the author of Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital. The book is a landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital during Hurricane Katrina, and a suspenseful portrayal of the pursuit of justice and the slippery nature of truth.

After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the hospital’s power failed and the heat climbed. As the situation deteriorated, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients to rescue first—and others to rescue last. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of healthcare rationing. Five Days at Memorial is a staggering feat of investigative journalism that reads as compellingly as the best thrillers.

“[Fink] evenhandedly compels readers to consider larger questions, not just ethics but race, resources, history and what constitutes the greater good, while humanizing the countless smaller tragedies that make up the whole. And, crucially, she provides context, relating how other hospitals fared in similar situations.”

—Keir Graff, Booklist (starred review)

Named a Best Nonfiction Book of 2013 by The New York Times, Five Days also won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Ridenhour Book Prize, and The Los Angeles Times Book Prize. The book has been selected as a common read by Northeastern University and Grand Valley State University.

“A triumph of journalism… Fink recreates this world with mastery and sensitivity, revealing the full humanity of each character… Fink’s narrative wades through the muck and finds only real people making tough choices under circumstances the rest of us, if we’re lucky, will never experience.”

—The Houston Chronicle

In addition to the Pulitzer, Fink’s journalism has earned her the National Magazine Award, the Overseas Press Club Lowell Thomas Award, and other journalism prizes. A former relief worker in disaster and conflict zones, Fink received her MD and PhD from Stanford University. Her medical background makes her uniquely qualified to report on the intersections between human-made conflicts, natural disasters, and medicine. At the same time, her writing style is engaging and transparent, making even the thorniest ethical issues and most complex medical challenges accessible for every reader.

Fink’s first book, War Hospital: A True Story of Surgery and Survival (PublicAffairs), is about medical professionals under siege during the genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. More recently, she has reported on the devastating effects of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season and the 2017 Las Vegas shooting for The New York Times.

For more information on Sheri Fink, please visit sherifink.net or explore her page on The New York Times website.

Speech Topics


Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital

In this talk, Dr. Fink recounts the events at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans during and after hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Drawing audiences into the lives of the doctors and nurses who struggled to save lives amid chaos, she raises the central question of the nation’s preparedness for rare but foreseeable events. Her research and remarks on the tragedies that occurred at Memorial, and the ensuing investigation, raise ethical and legal questions, and throw into sharp relief some of the current issues around health care reform, justice, and liability.

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