Dr. Mike creates his own reusable isolation gown from plastic trash bags as his supply of Personal Protection Equipment dwindles while continuing to care for patients in his office.
OPINION: Dr. Mike Speaks Out on the National Shortage of PPE
The national shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in our nation is putting our healthcare professionals at great risk to themselves and to others. During this widening pandemic, our army of dedicated caregivers–from first responders, to technicians, to nurses, to physicians–hour-after-hour steeped in exhaustion, and day-after-day devoted in their duty, medical professionals across our nation face the unsettling reality of having to sacrifice their own protection from COVID-19 exposure and infection in order to care closely and compassionately for those whose painful and rapid demise from this deadly pathogen approaches. It is an unfair reality, to be sure, and certainly one that we healthcare professionals should never have had to face.
The source of our nation’s PPE shortage is rooted deeply in foreign economic policy. Over the last 20 years, much of the manufacturing and distribution chain in our healthcare industry has been outsourced to foreign nations. For the benefit of short-term gain in lower costs to consumers and in greater profit to investors, we have relinquished control of, and by-and-large, substantive influence upon the supply chain for essential protective equipment for our healthcare needs. This is also true for the manufacturing and distribution of many common medications used by hundreds of millions worldwide, medical equipment as varied as a simple surgical clamp to mechanical heart valve, and the processing and packaging of vaccines. In truth, it is our own fault, long in the making, which has now surfaced in presentation as a real threat to us.
Notwithstanding the threat of this biological pathogen, COVID-19, to our patients and to my fellow healthcare professionals alike, I now appreciate this broader, insipid, and equally sinister threat to all of us. However, this threat is not of a biological nature, and therefore it has only just come to my attention. It is one of decades of gross mismanagement of economic policy which has rendered impotent our nation’s ability to respond effectively and safely to a healthcare crisis, and which has thrust doctors, nurses and all such devoted professionals into personal danger along the way. It is an epic failing on the part of our politicians and bureaucrats to all of us in our nation, yet one which our elected officials, both past and present, are unlikely to acknowledge and even more unlikely to correct in the foreseeable future. This is a shameful dereliction of duty to our nation, a grossly irresponsible approach to our national security, and a dangerous and deadly policy of healthcare mismanagement at the highest level.
I will remain loyal to my oath in caring for my patients and in upholding the sacred principles of my professional. In doing so, I will do everything I can to protect myself and my loved ones from harm along the way… a harm which I now describe as less threatening from COVID-19 than I do from shortsighted economic policies that have put us all in danger for decades in the past and, unfortunately and likely, for many more decades to come.