What's Tony Thinking

The Continuing Cost of COVID Denial


My son who works in healthcare forwarded an article from the Guardian about PTSD among overwhelmed health care workers. It was based on research by one of his colleagues at the VA here in Seattle. Here’s a line that jumped out at me, from a cardiac intensive care nurse in Muncie, Indiana:

“I have had to learn to cope with the anger that continues to rise and fall based on people who will not get vaccinated.” Yes. I imagine that must be quite a challenge.

Related question: how come people who refused to take pre-cautions, get vaccinated or even believe that COVID was real then turn to hospitals for care when they get sick? Why aren’t hospitals regarded with the same level of distrust/ suspicion as all the rest? Now that you’re sick you’re a believer in the healthcare system?

In Singapore those who have refused vaccination have to bear the cost of their own hospital care. I don’t know if that’s right or not.

But I’m pretty sure it’s not right for people with other medical conditions or need for treatment or surgery to be denied it because hospitals are full of COVID patients who refused to be vaccinated. Last week Washington Governor Jay Inslee put a month-long moratorium on all “elective” surgery. Where’s the line between “elective” and “non-elective”?

Yesterday’s New York Times had a compelling photo essay with nurses about the alleged “nursing shortage.” That’s not the real issue said those who spoke up and out in the video. There are nurses. They issue is that they aren’t being hired or deployed in adequate numbers. Why? Greed. Profit-maximization by hospitals.

I wrote last year about the CEO of the Providence Hospital in Seattle whose annual salary was over $10 million dollars. I thought that was just a bit much. Several of you wrote in to tell me actually that was about standard. Hospitals are keeping nursing short staffed to save money, at the cost of care to patients and sanity for nurses. Open the essay. It’s powerful.

“Profit maximization” is one of those seemingly innocuous, sanitized terms that has crept into our language and become accepted as a norm, even a duty. The nurses, still animated by an ethic of service, called it what it is. “Greed.”

As my friend Stan said to me at the gym the other day, the “Don’t Tread on Me” thing cuts two ways. Some people invoke that mantra to defend not getting vaccinated or taking precautions. But the trouble is, as Stan pointed out, those folks who don’t want anyone imposing something on them are imposing/ treading on someone else, whether by possibly infecting others or by taking up hospital space others need if and when they get sick.

I understand there’s an on-line subculture dedicated to shaming COVID-sick, even COVID-dead, people who refused vaccination. That doesn’t seem like a great idea, just more of the same nastiness that got us where we are now. But it does seem as if asking people to be responsible and to take responsibility for their choices is fair. But I’ve not heard much of that.

I’ve not heard many leaders say, “Listen, be a responsible human person. Do the right thing. Get vaccinated.”



Categories: Uncategorized