EXCLUSIVE: After launching one fact-based film into Oscar season with Captain Phillips, producer Scott Rudin has used his own funds to set up another. He has acquired Five Days At Memorial, the book by Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink that was published by Crown last month. Rudin will produce with Eli Bush through Scott Rudin Productions.
Fink, a physician as well as a writer, takes an unflinching look at the decisions doctors made at Memorial Medical Center, a hospital in New Orleans that was overwhelmed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina. The doctors, who lost electrical power and backup and were not supported by hospital owners who had no generator mechanic on staff or even an evacuation plan, were forced to make calculated decisions on which patients to save. Some of those who were not expected to make it were shot up with morphine and left to die. This was four days into a devastating hurricane where generators failed, the intensive care wing sweltered in darkness and chaos and gunshots rang out in the areas outside the hospital. The book focuses on an attempt to prosecute a doctor and two nurses for homicide after an investigation showed elevated levels of morphine and other drugs in 23 patients who died at the hospital. Of those, 20 were ruled homicides. Fink won the Pulitzer for a dispatch she wrote as an assignment for ProPublica and The New Times Magazine in 2009.