As the hurricane destroys things and flooding cuts off access to the hospital building, Susan Mulderick, who is Memorial’s Incident Commander, guides and leads her doctors and nurses to care for patients and their families.
Susan also begins the evacuation process by immediately calling for help. Since Susan is an important part of Memorial, viewers must want to know if the character is based on a real person. Let’s talk about the answer.
Is Susan Mulderick based on the real commander of the Memorial Incident?
Yes, Susan Mulderick is based on the incident commander of the same name at Memorial Medical Center at the time (currently known as Ochsner Baptist Medical Center). Susan was responsible for the hospital’s operations during Hurricane Katrina and the days that followed. She was also in charge of the nurses at the hospital at the time. Mulderick was longtime chair of the hospital’s emergency preparedness committee. She was instrumental in developing Memorial’s emergency plan, which lacked clear instructions in the event of a power outage or flood.
Mulderick had to take care of the people at LifeCare as well as Memorial. According to the show’s source text by Sheri Fink, when Diane Robichaux of LifeCare asked Mulderick about the evacuation, he said, “The plan is to leave no living patients behind.” Mulderick was questioned when investigators were investigating the deaths of several people found in the Memorial Hospital building. She told the investigator that she had spoken several times with Dr. Anne Pou. Pou was later charged with second-degree murder because she gave four LifeCare patients lethal doses of morphine or other drugs, which killed them.
“One of those chats was about me asking him [Pou] if some of these patients could receive something for what I thought was their suffering, anxiety and pain,” Mulderick told the investigator, according to the source text. When asked by the investigator if she had talked to anyone about killing patients, Mulderick said no. Sheri Fink’s book says the interviewer also asked her if she had talked about “palliative care that might lead to their [patients’] death” or “something that would ease their pain but might also hasten the dying process”. “My interviews with, well, they were about end-of-life care. “Certainly not to speed up a process like that,” she replied.
Richard Deichmann, who was then in charge of Memorial’s medical service, remembers Mulderick’s words of the “five days” in different ways. Deichmann wrote in his book “Code Blue” that Mulderick asked him if it would be “humane” to euthanize “do not resuscitate” patients in the hospital. He said: “There is no need to euthanize anyone.” Mulderick’s attorney said she never discussed sleeping patients with Deichmann or anyone else at Memorial during the time in question.
What happened to Susan Mulderick?
After what happened at Memorial after Hurricane Katrina, Susan Mulderick did her best to stay out of the news. Sheri Fink, who wrote the show’s source text, contacted Anna Mulderick for a story which was published in August 2009 and became the basis for the source text. Mulderick declined to be formally interviewed about the days following Hurricane Katrina. Since then, it seems she hasn’t changed her mind and hasn’t spoken in public about her life or what happened at Memorial.
Sources say Mulderick works in New Orleans, Louisiana, as a director of performance improvement for a health-related foundation. She has also chosen to keep her private life very secret.