OPINION: We canâ€™t only focus on the COVID crisis
In the last 10 days, two people I know had medical crises requiring emergency surgery. Their MDs had to bargain with distant facilities, since nearby hospitals were full of COVID patients. One person was in a metro area emergency room for 10 hours, before the MD found both surgeon and space for recovery.
The governor and Oregon Health Authority have intended to ensure equity in COVID treatment, but there is no current "crisis standards of care" direction for hospitals right now. Hospital staffs have valiantly helped all COVID patients, including the underserved. Clinical staff are being forced to make difficult patient care decisions, and facilities have continued the "first come, first served" admissions model.
COVID is not the only need for hospitalization in Oregon. Our own COVID patients, along with those from other states (California, Idaho and Alaska), fill our hospitals. Oregonians who need cancer surgeries, have strokes or heart attacks, have crumbling joints or need other urgent procedures, are fenced out of hospitals, because nearly all beds and staff are consumed with one disease. Some surgeries have been delayed for months or nearly a year. Winter is coming, and no doubt, the flu, too.
As this tragic pandemic rolls on, it's time to re-allocate some space and staff to other serious needs. It is hardly equitable to focus almost entirely on treatment of COVID patients, while being blatantly inequitable to chronically ill heart patients, stroke victims, diabetics and those with a host of other illnesses, many of whom might need only brief hospitalization. The price these patients are paying is part of the cost of COVID. MDs and RNs experienced in critical care, not politicians, should be immediately convened to hammer out truly equitable crisis care standards for everyone.
Sue Bliss is a Hillsboro resident.
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