Friday, March 20, 2020
Covid-19: So Who Will Get The Ventilators?
There are few worse ways to die than with a bad case of pneumonia, gasping for every small breath of air, a burning pain in your chest, your panicked eyes bulging out of your head.
But it's the way most Covid-19 patients die, and why ventilators that can pump oxygen into their damaged lungs are so important.
Unfortunately however, there may not be enough breathing machines for everyone.
Nobody seems to have prepared for a monster like this one...
Even as the virus continues to spread.
Which has Neil MacDonald wondering who will get what he calls those "golden" machines? And drawing some bleak conclusions.
I am not at all certain that, if I or any of my aged relatives come down with the disease in the uncertain and increasingly terrifying weeks to come, there will be ventilators for us. And as one American epidemiologist put it recently, the alternative to ventilation for someone with extreme respiratory symptoms is death. As a despairing Italian physician put it on social media from the horrors of his triage centre in Bergamo: “Every ventilator becomes like gold.”
We are told Canada has about 5,000 ventilators. That’s one ventilator for every 45 of those dying patients. Unless Canada somehow acquires a lot more of the machines, and the entire world is now chasing them, there will be rationing. That is what has been happening in Italy. Doctors there have been given the ghastly job of deciding who receives ventilation, and who is sent home to meet their fate.
But while MacDonald is right about what is happening in Italy, where exhausted doctors are indeed having to make some devastating choices...
This is nonsense.
So the big question – the crucial, life-or-death question as this virus tears through the population – will very quickly be this: who gets the ventilators?
The public deserves to know precisely how lifesaving care will be allocated. The public has a right to transparent fairness. My guess: fairness and objective allocation of resources will slam into the wall of privilege.
Power and influence will have nothing to do with who gets or who doesn't get a ventilator. The medical world is not as corrupt as our Con media.
If our doctors have to make the same choices as their colleagues in Italy, they will be based strictly on medical reasons. Which as Dr. Michael Kenyon, the head of ICU at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital says, won't be easy but is the right moral choice.
“What am I going to do with 14 ventilators?” Dr. Kenyon said in an interview. “I can tell you what I’m going to do: I’m going to do what they’re doing in Italy and I’m going to take 70-year-olds off the ventilator, and then 60-year-olds off the ventilator and eventually 50-year-olds off the ventilator, and I’m going to give them to 30-year olds with three kids.”
All is not lost, Canada is better prepared than most countries, and the Canadian government is now mobilizing industry to try to increase the supply of ventilators and other medical equipment.
But that will take time, and it will only work if we can flatten the curve with extreme social distancing, give our hospitals a chance, and protect the lives of our healthcare workers....
So they can be there for you, if or when you need them.
You know, this pandemic is almost certainly to get a lot worse before it gets better. And a lot of people who are alive today will soon be dead.
But we can keep those numbers down if we do our part.
And keep reminding everybody that we're all in this together...
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
So now we're all in it together and the rugged individualists have found a new religion and they're on the team as well. They must want something.
Godspeed Canada. Thank the stars you have competent and compassionate government, public health officials, front line health workers and everyday caremongers on top of this, instead of the walking disease vector that is Donald Trump. This is going to get ugly and bleak and it's only the beginning. America is lost, lost in its own GOP (Greed Over People) Holocaust. When all the dust settles and the U.S. is digging mass pits for its dead, you folks will be looked to once more as a northern star amid this darkness and a model nation ready to rebuild. Hang on Canada. This will get worse before it gets better but it's always darkest before the dawn.
Simon I'm frightened. I'm seventy-two and not in the best of health, so if I get the virus I probably won't survive. Never in my worst nightmares could I have imagined a more frightening way to go.
I posted this link yesterday and it's just as relevant today.
With all the grim news we are getting from around the world there are always the exceptions that give us hope.
Hi John...Yes, I hate to admit it, but some Cons are showing signs of acting responsibly, which is definitely something to celebrate. Rugged individualism is not great in normal times, but in plague years it can be fatal....
Hi Jackie....I'm sorry I have been to overwhelmed to answer comments from you and other readers. But I have been thinking of you all, and hoping that you are all well and taking care of yourselves. I am particularly worried about you, and my other American friends, who must deal with the criminal behaviour of Trump and his shabby minions. But hopefully it will be the end of them. So please hunker down, and wait for that dawn to arrive...
Hi anon....I'm not surprised you are frightened, so many people feel the same way. But don't even think about going anywhere. Although seniors are at risk, especially if they are frail and have underlying conditions, many seniors are getting sick and managing to recover. So it's not an automatic death sentence. Just do what all of us are being asked to do, and we'll laugh at this nightmare one day...
Hi JD....Thanks for including that link to the anesthetist in Perth who is trying to double the capacity of ventilators in his small hospital. My alma mater McGill is holding a contest to see who can come up with new designs that can also increase the number of ventilators. We also have a number of older machines left over from the SARS crisis that can be reconditioned, so I am hopeful that if we can keep the numbers from spiking we can save a lot of lives. But it will be a desperate struggle, and I just hope
I'll be around when it's all over...😳
Still hope our southern neighbours get a Health System!
Post a Comment