Is Dr. Ewing Cook Based on a Real Memorial Doctor? Where is He Now?

The fifth episode of Apple TV+’s medical drama ‘Five Days at Memorial’ follows the Memorial Medical Center doctors’ efforts to cope with the lack of resources at the hospital. The hospital’s incident commander Susan Mulderick realizes that the most humane thing she can do to the animals in the hospital building is to euthanize them. She seeks the help of Dr. Ewing Cook, who euthanizes several pets in the building believing that they will not be evacuated with human beings. As Cook euthanizes his own dog Rolfie in an affecting scene, the viewers may want to know whether the character is based on a real doctor. Well, here are our findings!

Is Dr. Ewing Cook Based on a Real Memorial Doctor?

Yes, Dr. Ewing Cook is based on a real doctor, who worked at Memorial as the chief medical officer at the time of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flood. When the hospital got isolated due to the flood, Cook discontinued care and other services, except for the most critical treatments and care, to ease the struggle of the nurses. As the show depicts, the pulmonologist carried a semi-automatic Beretta as well. During the time, he encountered a patient named Jannie Burgess, a 79-year-old woman with advanced uterine cancer and kidney failure. She was given morphine for comfort. Cook believed that it will be “impossible” to evacuate her since she weighed 350 pounds.

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After evaluating Burgess’ condition, Cook made a decision. “Do you mind just increasing the morphine and giving her enough until she goes?” he asked her nurse, as per his interview with Sheri Fink, the writer of the eponymous source text of the show. “I gave her [Burgess] medicine so I could get rid of her faster, get the nurses off the floor. There’s no question I hastened her demise,” he added. The doctor believes that he made the right decision. “To me, it was a no-brainer, and to this day I don’t feel bad about what I did,” he told Fink.

In the same interview, Cook revealed that he guided Dr. Anna Pou to administer a combination of morphine and a benzodiazepine sedative. As far as Cook is concerned, administering morphine was a way of helping the patients to get out of a terrible situation. “If you don’t think that by giving a person a lot of morphine you’re not prematurely sending them to their grave, then you’re a very naïve doctor. We kill ’em,” he told Sheri Fink in the same interview. In addition, Cook had to make a decision considering pets in the hospital. Since they weren’t allowed in evacuation boats and helicopters, Cook had to euthanize multiple animals, including his dog Rolfie, by administering Pentothal.

Where is Dr. Ewing Cook Now?

After Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flood, Dr. Ewing Cook reportedly moved to Lafayette Parish in Louisiana, away from New Orleans and the threats of natural disasters. As per Sheri Fink’s source text of the show, after leaving Memorial, he worked at two rural hospitals for “a couple of hours a day.” Before the arrests of Dr. Anna Pou, Lori Budo, and Cheri Landry, Cook was served a subpoena to appear at the Louisiana attorney general’s office for an interview, though there wasn’t any follow-up regarding the same. He also did undergo surgery for kidney stones, possibly a consequence of the dehydration he had to endure after the flood.

After Cook’s revelation concerning the death of Jannie Burgess was published, then-coroner Frank Minyard reviewed the case to find out whether it is a homicide. Minyard eventually concluded that he cannot classify Burgess’ death as a homicide and that the cause of her death is undetermined.

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