By CATHY FRYE
In recent days, I’ve listened to umpteen news reports on the possible effects that COVID-19 will have on the markets and the economy. Media also have focused on the effects the virus will have on travel, conferences, and political rallies.
Arkansans: Let’s get real. Let’s talk about logistics and practicalities. Let’s talk about the people who stand to be affected.
I have a couple of part-time jobs that require me to interact daily with our most vulnerable populations – the elderly and those who suffer from serious medical conditions and/or compromised or deficient immune systems.
I take care of your elderly parents. I assist your grandparents. I do all of this up close and personal. I help them bathe. I help transfer them from wheelchairs to beds and from beds to wheelchairs. i help them use the restroom. I fix their meals and remind them to take their medications. And I consider all of this to be an honor.
They have taught – and continue to teach – me so much. Their stories and nuggets of wisdom are invaluable. I treasure the time I spend with them. Oftentimes, I feel as though they are helping me more than I am helping them.
I’m a certified caregiver. I also deliver medications to nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and homebound seniors.
From what we’re hearing from the WHO and the CDC, a global pandemic is inevitable. And I’m going to be straight-up and brutally honest: America is not prepared to deal with it. Arkansas is not prepared to deal with it. Our healthcare system is more of a detriment than a benefit. The same is true where insurance companies are concerned.
GOP messaging: Oh, no worries! This virus only kills old and/or sick people. If you’re young and relatively healthy, you’ll be FINE!
OK, yeah, well, I, at age 50, might be “fine,” but what about my clients? What about the seniors residing in nursing homes?
Also? Since when is it OK to spin a potentially deadly virus as an inconvenience that might cause a little economic upheaval? Really? Seriously? When did we lose our compassion?
Shame on you. Shame on us. Shame on America and its politicians who refuse to see people as, well… people.
I don’t give a damn as to how many fetuses you Republicans “save.” You are not “pro-life.” You cage immigrant children, refuse to give them vaccinations, and now you’re set on killing off our senior citizens.
So here is my message to those who have parents/grandparents in either a nursing-home or residential setting:
Call the nursing homes or home-care agencies and ask what plans they will implement once the virus arrives in Arkansas.
If your elder resides in a nursing home or assisted-living facility, ask about how potential quarantines will affect you and your loved one.
If your elder relies on caregivers who come to the home, make sure that your loved one’s home is fully stocked with non-perishable foods, cleaning supplies, gloves, medications, etc…
Also, call the agencies that employ your caregivers and ask what sort of plans and policies they have in place. Ask what will happen in the event of quarantines.
Call the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Department of Human Services and ask them what sort of plans and policies are in place.
(Answer: None.) But go ahead and call and pressure them to come up with … something.
Urge your state and federal elected officials to consider the fact that minimum-wage workers don’t get paid sick leave. Also, it costs thousands – even with insurance – to pay for a COVID-19 test. Translation: Caregivers, hotel workers, restaurant and fast-food workers, delivery people, etc… etc… are not going to want to call in sick. Why?
1. Who can afford a $3,000 test for a virus that doesn’t have any sort of treatment protocol? I mean, what’s the point?
2. Who can afford to request days off due to illness when your employer will require you to go to a doctor – a doctor who will charge you not only for the visit and a doctor’s note but also for your $3,000 COVID-19 test? I mean, if healthcare made any sort of sense, insurance companies would consider these tests to be a form of preventative medicine.
3. Who can afford a hospital stay if one is diagnosed with COVIDd-19? This is another reason that your average minimum-wage, hourly employee is not going to seek medical treatment.
This, my friends, is why our healthcare system is a failure. This is why we need to reconsider the profits made at our expense. This is why we need to pressure elected officials to be transparent. Right now, we keep hearing how all counties will be provided with testing equipment. Yeah, well, great, but I’m not going to go get tested knowing that I’ll be charged thousands of dollars for it. I’ll just self-quarantine myself and beg my employers to show mercy when it comes to doctors’ notes. Because really – if there’s no treatment or cure, why bother?
Don’t believe me? Do you really think that the state of Arkansas has a handle on this? Call the governor. Call the Department of Health. Call the Department of Human Services. Call nursing homes, home-health agencies and those who hire caregivers.
And then let me know just how safe and secure and “prepared” you feel.