EDITORIAL

Field hospital serves as stark warning

Posted 11/19/20

We really wished that, since the start of this whole seemingly never-ending nightmare began this spring, we would never need to write this column again. We hope that those reading this who already do the right things - like wear their masks whenever

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EDITORIAL

Field hospital serves as stark warning

Posted

We really wished that, since the start of this whole seemingly never-ending nightmare began this spring, we would never need to write this column again.

We hope that those reading this who already do the right things – like wear their masks whenever around anybody, keep distance when they can’t avoid contact with people, wash and sanitize their hands, work remotely if possible and keep to a closed-circuit group of people that they have no choice but to interact with – won’t take this as an attack on their behavior, because we know that more people are doing the right things than the wrong ones.

Unfortunately, the resurgence and rapid spreading of COVID-19 in the past months – which is only accelerating as we begin to get into peak flu season – has proven once again that there are enough people doing the wrong things that it has led us to the precipice of disaster, and has forced our hand once again to deliver the same message you’re hearing from Gov. Raimondo, Dr. Alexander-Scott and all other health care experts across the world.

It does not matter if you are tired of the restrictions that implore you to not congregate with friends and family. It does not matter if you are tired of not being able to go out to your favorite bar. It does not matter if you feel inconvenienced by wearing a mask or if you’re encouraged by the promising news of vaccine trials.

COVID-19 does not stop spreading because you’re sick of dealing with its effect on all of our lives. It will go on spreading and killing unless we work together and take the difficult but essential steps to stymie it.

However, we have additional, sobering context this time around that drives home the importance of that message even more. Last Friday, members of the news media were invited to tour the field hospital that has been readied in the former Citizens Bank building in Cranston. This facility, ridiculed as a waste of taxpayer dollars earlier this spring, will now almost certainly see extended use as our number of infected citizens continues to rise and our hospitals continue to be overburdened.

This was not the usual tour of a new governmental facility where politicians show off amenities in an attempt to generate positive puff pieces from the news media. This was a direct warning at what we should try to avoid at all costs, because the thought of needing to utilize this facility is heartbreaking and, worse, was completely avoidable.

There is no real privacy to be found there, never mind personal space. Mere feet and thin medical curtains separate the some 335 beds available. There are no call buttons or televisions. There are few bathrooms and showers available. There is a room where ventilators will be utilized, but worsening patients will still likely need to be transported to an ICU. The nurse-to-patient ratio at this facility would be around 1 to 25, as compared to 6 to 8 for a conventional hospital. The physician to patent ratio would be 1 to 50.

The tour made one thing perfectly clear: Just because we have set up a field hospital to be utilized, does not mean you should want anybody to wind up in it. It is a Spartan facility devoid of comfort with the sole function of relieving our hospitals, which are not prepared to care for a significant portion of the population falling ill.

If you are someone who considers our regulations to be excessive, or thinks the whole virus story has been blown out of proportion, we ask you to please think of a loved one winding up in that dreary field hospital – alone, scared, sick and wondering if they will recover or get worse. Think of the overburdened health care worker who has had to inform loved ones that their parent, child or friend passed away without being able to see them and hug them one final time. Please, for goodness sake, have empathy and compassion for your fellow human beings.

There may be no avoiding further death and destruction from this virus, but it can still be mitigated if people simply take the personal responsibility to think bigger than themselves and their personal inconveniences.

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