Tuesday, April 07, 2020
Why We Need To Keep Enforcing Social Distancing
Toronto police have been patrolling the city making sure that people are social distancing.
They have been handing out some pretty stiff fines to those who still don't get it.
And I couldn't be more grateful.
For unless we can do more to flatten the curve, and quickly, a lot of Canadians are going to die who might have been saved.
Which is what happened in Italy.
And would be especially tragic in Canada right now because there are some signs we are flattening the curve, especially in B.C.
But Ontario and Quebec are not doing that well, and despite Team Canada's excellent efforts to obtain ventilators, masks, and other medical equipment, a sudden surge of sick people could still swamp some emergency rooms.
Forcing medical staff to make some heartbreaking decisions.
We were midway through one of the family update phone calls that have become our new reality in the visitor-free intensive-care unit when he paused. He had a question. Anything, I said. He spoke hesitantly. His wife had been on the ventilator for a few days now and he understood that these machines might be in short supply. He just wanted to make sure: Were we planning to take her ventilator away?
You don’t know her, he went on. Yes, her cancer is advanced. But before this pneumonia she was taking conference calls from her hospital room. She’s smart as a whip. Funny too. We have plans together, he told me. Places we want to see.
It was then that I realized what my patient’s husband was doing. He was trying to prove to me that his person was worth saving.
Forced to make decisions that could devastate families, as well as themselves.
I fear these doctors and nurses and other first responders will burn out. I fear they will suffer from post-traumatic stress. And with the prospect of triage on the horizon, I fear they will soon be handed a devil’s kit of choices no healer should ever have to make. It’s a recipe for moral injury.
Moral injury is now a looming reality for our front-line medical professionals, should they be forced to ration ventilators or other lifesaving resources.
For it's never as easy as this:
PATIENT FAMILY: You’re playing God. You can’t do that.
CLINICIAN: I am sorry. I did not mean to give you that feeling. Across the city, every hospital is working together to try to use resources in a way that is fair for everyone. I realize that we don’t have enough. I wish we had more. Please understand that we are all working as hard as possible.
PATIENT FAMILY: How can you just take them off a ventilator when their life depends on it?
CLINICIAN: I’m so sorry that her condition has gotten worse, even though we are doing everything. Because we are in an extraordinary time, we are following special guidelines that apply to everyone here. We cannot continue to provide critical care to patients who are not getting better. This means that we need to accept that she will die, and that we need to take her off the ventilator. I wish things were different.
But that's what will happen, just because some Canadians are too ignorant or too selfish to know what they're doing...
It's not just young people, older Canadians who should know better are also guilty of acting like selfish jackasses, or Cons. And they all need to stop.
You know, in Spain where the death toll has been horrifying, 743 today alone, they are finally starting to flatten the curve.
And doing it the same way we will...
"Don't feel like you're doing nothing. You're pulling at the curve in order to flatten it."
So just keep doing what you are doing. Help save the lives of health workers, loved ones, and maybe even your own.
Keep social distancing, no matter how hard it is, until the day of victory...