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. They interview Therese Meez, Kristy Johnson and Ken Nakamaru to find out the truth about the incident at the Memorial hospital. Mendez, Johnson and Nakamaru have revealed shocking details regarding the deaths of patients. We now know if the characters are based upon real people. Here are our findings.
Are Kristy Johnson, Ken Nakamaru, and Therese Mendez based on real LifeCare employees?
The fictional Therese Mendez is based upon a true individual who was a nurse executive at LifeCare Hospitals at the time Hurricane Katrina hit and the subsequent flood. Mendez was interviewed by investigators to investigate Dr. Anna Pou’s allegations, particularly that she gave morphine LifeCare patients. “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 told Mendez how Pou assumed responsibility over the LifeCare patients. Then, she informed Mendez that the patients would be administered a lethal dose.
Kristy Johnson was LifeCare’s physical medicine director 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. Virginia Rider spoke with her about how she talked to Emmett Everett about evacuating him. “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. According to the source text Johnson also said that Pou had given Wilda medication. “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.
Ken Nakamaru, a pharmacist working in LifeCare during Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath flood, is featured on the show. Rider and Schafer interviewed him. However, according to Fink’s source text of the show, there are no records of them interviewing someone named Nakamaru. This character could be based upon Steven Harris, who was the Director of Pharmacy at LifeCare from 2000 to 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.
Harris gave the same supply to Pou when she asked for syringes. Rider used information gleaned from interviews with Mendez and Johnson to create an affidavit for Pou’s arrest.
Ken Nakamaru and Kristy Johnson: Where are they now?
According to reports, Therese is an adjunct instructor at a Louisiana University. She is also an NCLEXRN faculty at a non-profit educational corporation. She currently resides in New Orleans. She became an Education Director for LifeCare Management Services. In 2010, she left the company and worked at St. Bernard Parish Hospital, Chalmette in Louisiana for a year. Mendez has chosen to keep her private life secret as well. Kristy Johnson, like Mendez has decided to keep her private life out of the public eye. Her current location is unknown due to the same.
Steven Harris currently works as a Consulting Director for a Texas-based management consultancy 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. From 2018 to January 20,22, he was the principal of Western Hills Pharmacy Consulting, LLC, Frisco, Texas. He has chosen to keep his private life private so his relationship status is unknown. Harris currently resides in Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, Texas.
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