In the sixth episode of Apple TV+’s medical drama ‘Five Days at Memorial,’ Assistant Attorney General Arthur “Butch” Schafer and Special Agent Virginia Rider set out to investigate the forty-five dead bodies that get discovered in New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center. To find out what really happened in the hospital building, they interview Therese Mendez, Kristy Johnson, and Ken Nakamaru, three employees of LifeCare Hospitals, which operates in the same Memorial hospital building. Since Mendez, Johnson, and Nakamaru reveal startling details concerning the deaths of their patients, we have found out whether the three characters are based on real people. Here are our findings!
Are Therese Mendez, Kristy Johnson, and Ken Nakamaru Based on Real LifeCare Staff Members?
Therese Mendez is based on a real individual who worked at LifeCare Hospitals as a nurse executive at the time of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flood. To investigate the allegations made against Dr. Anna Pou, especially that she administered morphine to LifeCare patients, the investigators interviewed Mendez. “She [Pou] said the decision had been made to administer lethal doses,” Mendez said to the investigators, as per Sheri Fink’s eponymous source text of the show. Mendez was later called to testify before the grand jury that was sworn in to consider Pou’s case. She explained how Pou assumed responsibility for the LifeCare patients and informed her that the patients would be given a lethal dose of drugs.
Kristy Johnson was the physical medicine director of LifeCare at the time of the deaths. She heard Susan Mulderick say “we’re not going to leave any living patients behind,” as per Fink’s book. She assisted Wilda’s daughter Angela to a boat during the evacuation. In an interview with Virginia Rider, she revealed that she discussed evacuating Emmett Everett. “She [Pou] was saying, ‘There’s no way; he couldn’t fit through the hole.’ So, she wanted someone to sedate him,” Johnson told Rider, according to the source material of the show. However, she wasn’t sure whether Pou or someone else talked about sedating Emmett when Rider tried to confirm the particular detail with her.
As per Fink’s book, Johnson witnessed Pou injecting multiple LifeCare patients. Johnson later told Schafer and Rider that Pou told her that she is going to give Emmett something “to help him with his dizziness.” Johnson then saw Pou entering Emmett’s room and shutting the door. As per the source text, Johnson also told investigators that Pou injected Wilda. “I am going to give you something to make you feel better,” Pou told Wilda, as per Johnson. “I had to give her [Wilda] three doses.” Johnson thought she recalled Pou telling her after injecting Wilda, as per the source material. However, Pou’s lawyer denied that his client ever said this.
In the show, Ken Nakamaru is a pharmacist who works in LifeCare at the time of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flood. He is interviewed by Schafer and Rider. However, according to Fink’s source text of the show, there are no records of them interviewing someone named Nakamaru. The character can be based on Steven Harris, who worked as the Director of Pharmacy for LifeCare between 2000 and 2006. When Schafer and Rider interviewed Harris, he told them that Pou told him and Diane Robichaux that “lethal doses” would be given to patients, as per Fink’s book.
When Pou asked for supplies like syringes, Harris provided the same. When Rider prepared an affidavit before the arrest of Pou, she used information gathered from the interviews of Robichaux, Mendez, Johnson, and Harris.
Where Are Therese Mendez, Kristy Johnson, and Ken Nakamaru Now?
As per sources, Therese Mendez is currently working as an adjunct instructor at a university in Louisiana. Along with her university job, she also works as an NCLEX-RN faculty in a for-profit education corporation. She is currently based in the city of New Orleans. In 2006, she became an Education Director in LifeCare Management Services. After leaving the company in 2010, she worked in St. Bernard Parish Hospital, Chalmette, Louisiana, for a year. Mendez has also chosen to keep her personal life private. Like Mendez, Kristy Johnson has chosen to stay away from the spotlight after the incident. Due to the same, her current whereabouts are unknown as well.
Steven Harris is currently working as Consulting Director, since April 2020, of a Texas-based management consulting company. In 2006, he was promoted to the post of LifeCare’s Corporate Director of Pharmacy Operations. He also served as LifeCare Health Partners’ Vice President of Ancillary Services – pharmacy, lab, and radiology till 2019. He served as the principal of Western Hills Pharmacy Consulting, LLC, based in Frisco, Texas, from 2018 to January 2022. Since he has chosen to keep his personal life private, his current relationship status is unknown. Harris currently resides in Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, Texas.