We think of humanitarian crises as taking place in countries that are poor or subject to war. However, it is happening and has been happening in Québec and across our country for decades now. I insist on calling it a humanitarian crisis even if it takes place in distinct centers and homes: it involves a large number of people who have been the subject of pervasive social neglect, workers and residents at the margins of society. This crisis calls for a reckoning of the way in which we treat people labelled dependent (en perte d’autonomie).
It is ironic that leaders are now saying that we must take care of “our seniors”. What do the events and this calamity say of our supposed ownership? What does it say about our concern for those who care for “our seniors”? It is clear that nursing homes are the last priority in an overburdened health system.
President Donald Trump on Covid-19 remedies at a press conference. He later said that he was being sarcastic.
"So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous - whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light, (turning to Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response co-ordinator) and I think you said that hasn't been checked but you're going to test it. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside of the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you're going to test that too. Sounds interesting.
"And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? So it'd be interesting to check that."
(Pointing to his head) "I'm not a doctor. But I'm, like, a person that has a good you-know-what."
Deaths in nursing homes are not being counted. BMJ blogs
Nursing homes are often viewed as being on the periphery of healthcare systems, and the place of last resort for care delivery. They are often privately owned, and therefore not seen as part of the responsibility of government or associated agencies.
Death is an inevitable part of old age. But this cannot be viewed as an acceptable reason for ignoring the growing numbers of covid cases and deaths in care homes. It suggests that these deaths don’t matter. They are not being counted because in some people’s minds, they don’t count. But that is not good enough.
Everyone in the hospital is understandably on edge. Uncertainty is everywhere. Our hospital’s policies have been constantly changing about who we should test for Covid-19 and when we should wear what type of protective personal equipment. Covid-19 is still a new disease to many clinicians. We don’t know exactly which patients should go to the ICU and which are stable enough to stay on the regular floor. And it is only a matter of time before we run out of masks and face shields to protect front-line health care workers.
Every night during the pandemic I’ve dreaded showing up to work. Not because of fear of contracting Covid-19 or because of the increased workload. I dread having to justify almost every one of my medical decisions to my clinician colleagues.
Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge
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