Walking through hell

By Doc Wallace | Mar 26, 2020

There is a saying, “If you find yourself walking through Hell, don’t stop – keep walking.” In this unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, we are, indeed, “walking through Hell.” Not since the horror of 9/11 have we been tasked with the urgent need for the entire country to respond in collective unity. I could not be more impressed than I am to see that, in a time of unparalleled political division, there is a whole-nation response that seems almost surreal given the tribalism of a few weeks ago.

This column presents a conservative view. However, the view that I will express here is, hopefully, neither uniquely conservative nor liberal. It is that we “must not stop, we must keep on walking.” We must keep up this new-found bipartisanship. We must keep up this whole-of-government approach to oversight on the virus problem. We must keep up this new-found mutual respect between state and federal government. Who could ever have imagined New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo or California Gov. Gavin Newsom offering praise and thanks to President Trump for his leadership in this time of crisis? I must opine on this situation that only the most hardened anti-Trumper on the left could not bring himself to admire this new bipartisan and mutual respect.

Looking back on the impeachment debacle, one can only imagine the kind of progress we as a country could have made had we instead had a government that was committed to the new-found comity that we see taking place today. The mind boggles.

To ensure that we do indeed “keep on walking” in this virus travail, we must applaud the vast number of players, political and civil – particularly the health care providers, who are working to solve the virus problem. We should also call out those malingerers who cannot shed their selfish partisan views.

Case in point. While watching the daily coronavirus task force briefings, I am struck by the polarity of questions that come from the press corps. While the majority of questions are heartfelt queries about the spread of the virus, mitigation attempts, therapeutic possibilities, public-private partnerships, economic plans, family financial help, and best-and-worst case scenarios, an embittered, nasty few reporters cannot shed their tribalism. They ask only “gotcha questions” such as, “Why were we not better prepared?” or “Is saying China was the source of the virus a racist comment?”

Again, I will opine an answer that goes a little beyond, “Duh.” It was simply a logistical impossibility to be prepared for the leviathan problem of confronting the largest, most virulent pandemic in modern times. Secondly, to name the country that scientists across the globe cite as the source of the virus is in no way racist.

I will close with comments on three Maine politicians in regard to our current “walk through Hell.” I credit the governor, Janet Mills, for her calm, no-nonsense bipartisan remarks in concert with Govs. Cuomo and Newsom. I also credit Sen. Susan Collins for announcing that she has paused her political campaign in light of the crisis, and turned her attention to cosponsoring a bipartisan, remedial bill in the Senate to provide $300 billion in assistance to small businesses. At the same time, I strongly condemn the business-as-usual, negative television campaigning against Collins by Sarah Gideon’s dark money advertising. Frankly, it is unseemly.

I do not know where we, as a country, will be when this column sees the light of day. Hopefully, the Trump “15 Day” plan will see the beginning of the dampening of the virus curve. However, I sincerely doubt that we will have exited “Hell.” I also know that Americans will never quit, and we “will keep on walking” until this terrible scourge is behind us. God bless America.

Another View is a Maine Press Association award-winning column written by Midcoast conservative citizens/writers Jan Dolcater, Ken Frederic, Paul Ackerman, Doc Wallace and Dale Landrith Sr.

 

 

Comments (2)
Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Mar 26, 2020 14:18

Perhaps the best comment comes from the front lines.

 

 

"Dear Mr. President,

 

I am an emergency medicine resident physician in one of the biggest hospital systems in New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. In the past several weeks, I have taken care of countless patients with COVID-19 ― some who didn’t seem so sick and some blue in the face and gasping for air 70 times a minute. I have put my face inches from theirs and inserted breathing tubes into their trachea, putting myself and everyone else in the room at exponentially higher risk of contracting this disease.

 

As I’ve sat in a room full of coughing patients for 60 hours a week, I have worried about my own safety now and in the coming months as this pandemic gets worse and our completely inadequate supply of personal protective equipment rapidly disappears. There is a major shortage of face masks, along with other supplies, across the country and without them, it can be next to impossible to keep health care workers safe and working to support the increasing number of patients who are arriving at our hospital and clinic doors.

 

I have sent some not-so-sick patients home and I have seen some patients die right in front of my eyes. I have spoken on the phone to the sobbing mother of a young man admitted to the intensive care unit, and told her, “No, you are not allowed to enter the hospital to see your critically ill son because we are not letting family members into the hospital during this pandemic.” To say that I have experienced countless heartbreaking moments over the past several weeks would be an understatement.

 

In the next couple of days or weeks, we will run out of hospital beds and ventilators. The number of critically ill COVID-19 patients who come to my hospital seems to double every day. If things continue this way, I will soon be forced to make decisions about who deserves a shot at life and who I will allow to die, and that is an unthinkable thing to have to consider, much less do.

 

Tell me ― when there is only one ventilator available, should it go to the young nurse or the elderly woman with multiple comorbidities who has an advanced directive that says “do not intubate/do not resuscitate”? How about the single mother of three? Or the deeply respected emergency medicine attending doctor I worked with last week? How about the middle-aged man with some medical comorbidities and corny jokes who reminds me of my father ― or is my father? Or maybe the person in prison for rape? How about the person of color in jail for marijuana possession? How about a beloved and wealthy celebrity? How about the homeless person with alcohol use disorder who spits on my fellow medical professionals and me when we try to help? How about the homeless person who lives on my street corner and smiles at me every day and says “God bless you”? It’s not so easy choose, is it?

 

If things continue this way, I will soon be forced to make decisions about who deserves a shot at life and who I will allow to die and that is an unthinkable thing to have to consider, much less do.

 

This past week, between 12-hour shifts working in the emergency department and the newly created COVID respiratory unit, I have done everything I can think of to stop that nightmare scenario from arriving. I have posted on social media begging my friends and family to stay home. I have signed countless petitions and contacted my local government pleading for more personal protective equipment and ventilators. If I learn of other things I can do, I will do those, too.

 

My governor, Andrew Cuomo, has tirelessly worked to obtain more personal protective equipment and ventilators. He has begged you to nationalize the effort to acquire medical supplies and you have denied him. He’s begged for citizens to stay home and, while some are listening, many are not and if they don’t, it will be disastrous. But there’s only so much the governor ― or any of us ― can do alone. At this point, there may be only so much we can do together. But we must try.

 

On Tuesday you told Fox News you would “ love to have the country opened up and raring to go by Easter.” You said you chose Easter because, “you will have packed churches all over our country, I think it would be a beautiful time and it is just about the timeline that I think is right.” The thought of this makes me nauseous. If we do that, exponentially more people will get this disease, our hospital system will not have the capacity to handle it, and health care professionals like me will have to let countless people die while continuing to put our own lives ― and possibly the lives of the people we love ― at risk.  

 

When we run out of ventilators ― and we will if we lift the social distancing restrictions that are in place and this pandemic continues to spread as it already has ― I will not be ready to make these decisions about who deserves to live and who deserves to die. When those moments come, I do not know how I will be able to sleep at night. Will you? Now is not the time to let our guards down.

 

You have the power to be remembered as someone who did the right thing. I beg you to help me and other health care workers save countless lives ― possibly including our own ― so that we as a nation don’t have to suffer the unthinkable devastation looming on the horizon. I beg you to take this pandemic more seriously and I am begging you to do it now.

 

Sincerely,

 

Rachel Sobolev, MD

Rachel Sobolev is a second year emergency medicine resident in New York City. "
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/new-york-city-coronavirus-healthcare-workers-trump-easter_n_5e7a8037c5b620022ab2bcac



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Mar 26, 2020 12:18

God Bless and stay safe out there. there is no more of us and them. We are all United and prayerful for all Americans. So stay home and enjoy family around you. I certainly am here n AZ.



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