Everything we’re doing right now with this lockdown was designed to “flatten the curve.” The intent was to hold off the virus spread so hospitals could get ready for the surge of new patients.
Well, I think they’re ready. In fact, I think they’re moving past ready and firmly into closing down territory.
Hospitals all over the country are sitting far emptier than they’ve ever been as staff lose their jobs due to inactivity. In other words, there are no patients.
There are nowhere near the projected coronavirus patients. But more importantly, there are also no elective surgeries, no preventative checks, no testing, and fewer emergency room visits.
It’s not just that hospitals are turning them down to stay ready. It’s also that people are scared to go.
Take my case. Two months ago, I got sick with what seemed like a normal cold or maybe light flu. It went away, but I’ve been left with a persistent cough.
Taking the lead from our health experts, I tried four different Telehealth doctor visits. All had different theories, but the last two doctors, in particular, both advised that I needed to have someone listen to my lungs to really get to the bottom of it.
Because all the local urgent care facilities have closed, and my own doctor won’t see me live, my closest option is about an hour away. (Although, probably shorter, since there aren’t any cars on the road.)
As I considered my options, I came up with an alternative to everyone’s suggestions (as I often do). I sliced my finger open and went to the emergency room to get stitches. I figured, while I was there, I could get someone to listen to my lungs and check on my cough.
When I arrived at the emergency room, I was surprised to be immediately admitted into triage. After the normal screening questions, I was moved to a room.
On the way to the room, I noticed about 12 doctors and nurses standing around, and all but one of the patient rooms empty. There was basically no one there.
After I was put into my room, it was only a short five minute wait before a nurse entered to get my details. When she finished and left, it was only ten minutes before a doctor came in, determined I needed about three stitches, listened to my lungs, ordered a chest x-ray, and then left.
The next person entered about five minutes later to clean my wound. I had used Wound Seal on my finger to prevent the bleeding, and by this time, it had completely sealed the wound (as the name suggests it might). Try as he might, the intern could not remove the Wound Seal, and the bleeding had stopped.
When the doctor returned, he decided not to do stitches because the wound was pretty much set. So we did the x-rays, COVID test, and other check up procedures.
We determined that I must have had a virus, and the cough, while lingering, would probably go away after a bit more time. The x-rays were negative, and my lungs sounded great.
With peace of mind that all was well, I grabbed my things and went home. The entire event lasted under two hours. In all my previous emergency room visits, I’m not sure I ever waited less than two hours.
In all my years of hospital visits, either for me or to see someone else, I’d never seen anything like what I experienced at the ER.
The goal of staying home was to preserve our hospitals for the onslaught of dying COVID patients. Like most things the government tries, it seems to have had the unintended consequences of hospitals losing money, staff losing jobs, and Americans losing access to the care they need to treat or prevent other diseases. (You know… OTHER diseases?)
I’m interested to see how much longer all of this can go on.