Dr. Anna Pou’s Comments About Sheri Fink
On the eve of the 8th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the event that changed my life, I find myself focusing on all the good that has come from my experiences, not the pain since I am filled with gratitude for the generosity, love and support I have received not only from my family and patients, but from total strangers. I have always been met with kindness and compassion with one notable exception-Sheri Fink. Ms. Fink not only misrepresented herself to many, but she violated the most sacred bond of all, the patient-doctor relationship.
When I first met Sheri Fink at a Houston fundraiser to support my defense on May 18, 2007, she appeared as a sympathetic supporter of mine and my colleagues. She told me and my attorney, Rick Simmons that she wanted to write “my story” as she had been following my “tribulations with great sympathy.” The answer I gave was, and still is, no. She did it anyway, with her own spin and motivation.
When Sheri Fink entered into my life, I instinctively distrusted her but I had no idea at that time that she would insinuate herself into my life and profit from the pain and suffering of others.
She represented herself to me and many others as a physician whose main interest and focus of research and teaching was disaster preparedness and ethics, not as a journalist for hire. She falsely represented herself to gain access to my family, friends, colleagues and patients in order to find out information about my life, my character and my actions at Memorial Hospital in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina so that she could represent me in a” compassionate and fair” way in the article that she was writing concerning the events at Memorial Hospital . In reality, she harassed and exploited everyone I know and she stalked me for over 2 years after my refusal to allow her to write “my story”. She paid to attend the fundraiser for my defense pretending to be my supporter, a “big fan” of mine, all the while she was investigating me. This act alone is unethical by anyone’s standards. As a self-proclaimed medical ethicist, it is despicable.
Her initial email was signed with her credentials including her appointment to the Harvard School of Public Health as a visiting scientist, implying that her main interest was medicine and research, not journalism. Nowhere was it mentioned that she was writing a for-profit story for Pro-Publica.
I ultimately found out later that she contacted some of my partners, under the false pretense that she wanted to write something “positive” about me. Unknown to me, the wife of a patient agreed to speak with Ms. Fink about me. The family was very supportive and wanted to do anything that would help me. She then committed one of the most despicable acts a person can commit, even a journalist. She traveled to their home in a small town in Louisiana to meet with my dying patient and his wife. She arrived with her tape recorder and camera and wanted to photograph him , as he lay dying (he had undergone multiple surgeries on his face). I know this, because his wife told me so. Ms. Fink contaminated that sacred time that people in love spend together at the end of life. When I confronted Ms. Fink about this, she adamantly denied it. I knew that my patient’s wife did not lie, and I knew that Ms. Fink did.
Her email to me regarding this event is as follows: 8/9/2007 9:01 am
“….I would not engage in that sort of exploitation. Please understand that my aim is to fully and correctly convey both the important events that you and your colleagues experienced and the outstanding people that you so clearly are….I believe with all my heart that you and the important lessons that you have to share deserve a compassionate and accurate depiction rather than a shallow and sensationalistic one. “
I find this ironic as she did exactly what she said she would not do—she wrote a sensational story that victimized innocent people for her own financial and reputational gain.
Do not be misled by her timid and demure demeanor; she is a ruthless, persistent and deceitful journalist who has a flare for fiction, hiding behind the shield of the 1st Amendment. Sheri Fink possesses a true talent for ”spinning” the truth. When I could not confirm information for her New York Times article during the “fact” checking about events at Memorial Hospital, she threatened me if I did not answer her questions. When other healthcare workers corrected her on her facts, she ignored their responses. Ms. Fink also misquoted the disaster legislation that was passed into Louisiana law in 2008 saying that I passed laws so that healthcare workers could legally kill patients during disasters.
I wonder if those on the committee who awarded her the Pulitzer Prize for her article “Deadly Choices at Memorial” condone the dishonest, unethical and threatening tactics she used during her investigation. Perhaps they do. In that case, her award was indeed well earned.