Merriott column: Wear your damn mask, or let your caregivers know
Our daughter had responsibility for her first COVID patient yesterday at the trauma hospital where she works as an RN in Denver. One day at the end of November, she had three COVID patients and two Cardio patients. Some of you may say “So what, it’s what she signed up for.”
Well, not really, as she is starting her third year on the Cardio Floor. Instead, she spent her whole 12-hour-plus shift head to toe in Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). She called last night and talked to her mom, hoarse from having to basically holler through a mask and shield to be heard by her five patients all day. Her face and feet are swollen and painful from the tight mask and standing for 12 hours for the third day in a row.
She told her mom that her first patient was 82 and his wife and son had already died from COVID. He is weak but is expected to pull through, unlike some 281,000 less-fortunate to date.
Last spring, the hospital made the whole top floor the COVID Floor. I think 36 beds. It came close to filling up, but not quite.
This current surge has filled it and then some. Half of the Cardio Floor is now part of the COVID Care Unit. There was another couple on the Cardio/COVID Floor and the husband was rudely insisting on being discharged right away? Why? So he could go with his wife to Thanksgiving Dinner with extended family. The wife had also tested positive but was going to go to the family gathering anyhow and potentially infect the rest of the family.
Who are these aliens who are so inconsiderate and selfishly think only of themselves? What trauma have they been subjected to that has short-circuited their humanity? Could it be too much reality TV? Can even one of them explain to me why the greatest country in the world (since WWII) with 3% of the world’s population has 20% of the COVID deaths and sickness?!
Go ahead, take your sweet time. Then look in the mirror!
At least now the docs and nurses have Personal Protective Equipment. Back in the spring, there was a shortage of PPE. That was back when the coronavirus was going to disappear “miraculously,” instead of killing 281,000 people, making over 14 million sick, and basically shutting down a substantial part of the U.S. economy. This, despite the largest-ever stimulus package ($2 trillion) ever implemented.
Seems there are a lot of folks hurting economically right now, but not to worry Amazon is on a hiring spree as Jeff Bezos’ wealth heads towards $200 billion! Of its 810,000 workers in the U.S., most of them earn a minimum of around $15 an hour. Woo hoo that is $30,000 a year! Try raising a family on that! I also read this morning that three of the Walton’s net worth is up $59 billion since the pandemic started. Meanwhile, there are 30 million Americans collecting unemployment, probably doing most of their shopping at Walmart trying to put food on the table.
Many nurses are quitting their so-called day job and becoming “traveling nurses” after working their rear ends off during this pandemic and receiving nothing more than a cost-of-living raise. Traveling nurses make closer to what they are worth, especially as more health-care professionals either get sick or take early retirement.
But, back to our baby who is her momma’s whole world. We celebrated Thanksgiving this year on Tuesday, as Shiloh had to work on Thanksgiving Day. In fact, she has had to work four straight 12-hour days this year starting with Thanksgiving Day.
I am becoming more and more impressed by the nurses and docs that put their health and lives on the line every day. Especially when you have conspiratorial theorists out there who will not wear a mask and don’t socially distance. I think there needs to be a query on the COVID admissions questionnaire that asks “Did you wear your mask and socially distance?”
If not, your caregivers deserve to know — especially when they are making the decision on who gets that last ventilator.
Frosty Merriott is a political independent and has a CPA practice in Carbondale. He served 10 years on Town Council and is out of patience with the mask avoiders and looks forward to frontline workers getting their vaccines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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