Louisiana Attorney General Subpoenas Hospital Workers Over
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 27, 2005
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA--As part of his investigation into allegations that hospital staff killed some patients during and after Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana's Attorney General has ordered dozens of people to testify as to what they witnessed or knew about the crimes.
Charles C. Foti Jr. issued 73 subpoenas to workers at New Orleans Memorial Medical Center, including doctors, nurses and members of the support staff who were at the hospital during the hurricane and the five days after the storm hit on Aug. 29.
Stories surfaced soon after the storm, mostly in British tabloids, suggesting that doctors and nurses at unnamed New Orleans hospitals had actively brought about the deaths of patients who were not thought capable of surviving the ordeal.
Earlier this month, Dr. Bryant King, who was working at Memorial, and Fran Butler, a nurse manager, told CNN News that they overheard medical personnel talking about euthanizing some critically ill patients.
Those discussions reportedly occurred two days after the levies protecting New Orleans were breached. By that point, the flooded hospital was without power and air conditioning, and was running low on supplies and medications. Evacuations were sporadic as the temperature inside the building climbed to 110 degrees.
Forty-five patients died at the hospital during and after the storm. Foti has ordered autopsies on the bodies to determine whether medical personnel might have put them to death.
Kris Wartelle, a spokesperson with Foti's office, told the New York Times that the subpoenas were issued because employees had been reluctant to speak to authorities after the Tenet Healthcare Corporation, which operates Memorial, informed workers that they did not have to grant interviews to the media or government.
"All we can say is that we had to issue the subpoenas to get those people to talk to us," said Wartelle.
Six hospitals and 13 nursing homes in the state are under investigation following allegations of patients or residents being euthanized, abandoned, or improperly evacuated. At least 140 people died at hospitals and nursing homes in the New Orleans area alone during and after Hurricane Katrina hit. People with disabilities were hit particularly hard by the storm.
"Foti hands out 73 subpoenas" (Leesville Daily Leader)
Other disability-related articles about Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma are available on today's Below the Fold page: