Thursday, January 21, 2021
If I was Mel Gibson and this was a Vietnam War movie, I would be yelling "broken arrow". We have reached the critical pandemic point. Medical services are not normal as announced.
Our hospitals are at the overwhelmed tilting point. Every bed in the province will shortly be occupied along with hallways and other areas. Ability to staff and provide care is strained. Most difficult will be the struggle to provide ICU beds and ventilators which require intense resources. Consider a visit to any medical hospital or clinic as a hotspot for potential transmission. For this reason and on ethical grounds sending patients with minor complaints for medical testing, even if it is available, must be done with great scrutiny and consideration for transmission. Up to now, we knew that the average person being infected had over a 99.7% chance of good recovery. The 5 to 10% who required hospitalization to achieve this didn't matter because we had facilities. This no longer is the case and changes of the whole scenario. For the first time in my career we will be looking at who gets a ventilator and who doesn't. Good quality care is limited in a chaotic strained medical environment.
I am in the highest risk group for severe Covid complications. As a front-line physician seeing community patients I have patiently waited for the last six weeks to partake immunization so that this vital community work can continue. At first it was confusing due to lack of communication and no word or guidance of how to obtain immunization. Then the bouncing off lists games began, and as it currently stands there are no further vaccines available despite numerous low risk people have received them. It presents a problem because we are faced with repeated quarantine when unexpected encounters occur and we have no access to the tax funded protective supply. It almost seems unethical to coax people out of safe residences into infectious environments to perform deferrable tasks. It could and does result in catastrophe for their vulnerable loved ones. It feels a little bit like the battle of Paschendale, where the 5 am whistle to attack the vastly outnumbered enemy is about to sound and thousands of my fellow soldiers have guns but yet to receive bullets. The generals with plenty of ammunition well behind the lines solve the problem by ordering the use of bayonets during the 2 km walk in open fields towards enemy machine gun nests.
What seems more disappointing is that while we wait months for more vaccine and then more time for it to take affect, any discussion about viable alternatives seems to be suppresed and dismissed. The death rates in vulnerable population are predicted to further skyrocket in the next weeks. I sincerely hope that we are not made to feel that it is solely the fault of a few citizens who exercise poor judgment at times. The quicker we realize our failures, the sooner we can re-group and correct things and re-aim our strategies.