Positive, with COVID-19, the chance of loss of life is low. However what are the chances that you’re ready to simply accept for your loved ones? A one in 100 likelihood of dying? One in 10,000?
I attempt to dwell by the oath I took in medical faculty to deal with all sufferers pretty and equally, even with danger to my very own well being. However after the West African Ebola epidemic, and now with COVID-19, I do know I’m not essentially that robust. The hair stands up on the again of my neck after I hear ethicists, hospital directors, and politicians, sitting of their protected workplaces, lecture me on my obligation to die offering health- care. We don’t take these dangers due to an summary “moral responsibility”; we take them as a result of it’s what we do each time we stroll into the chaos and hazard of the emergency division. We do it as a result of it’s our job.
Sure, physicians and nurses have an moral responsibility to offer care. (I’ve even written about it.) The attitude of medical ethicists is fairly easy—health-care suppliers, particularly physicians, ought to proceed to look after the sick even when it places their life in danger. Now we have an obligation to deal with all sufferers, as a result of we selected our occupation and are nicely rewarded by society with cash and respect. Nurses have an analogous skilled responsibility, however have particular exemptions. However there are few, if any, obligations for all of the help employees that make my work attainable—the techs, clerks, registrars, environmental employees. They don’t take an oath. Some are paid minimal wage, have few advantages, and get not one of the societal accolades reserved for medical doctors and nurses. Why ought to they die for a $25,000-a-year job and $10,000 price of life insurance coverage? Who’s going to feed their youngsters once they’re gone?
Once you’re the one carrying a flimsy paper robe and masks in the identical room as somebody dying from an invisible virus that makes its residence in the identical air you breathe, nothing is easy.
Our responsibility is not boundless, and in dangerous conditions, sacrificing suppliers will not be what’s finest for society. If health-care suppliers are going to danger their life, then there’s a reciprocal obligation—the equity precept—that society, employers, and hospitals preserve them protected and make sure that they’re pretty handled, whether or not they dwell, get sick, or die.
First, hospitals should present the assets essential to guard the employees caring for contaminated sufferers—not simply PPE, but additionally coaching, environmental controls, and insurance policies and procedures to stop unfold. At a minimal, suppliers needs to be provided a free place to keep away from their household and be compensated for the time that they could not be capable to contact their very own youngsters. Who’s going to handle my spouse and youngsters if I’ve to sleep on a cot within the hospital for 2 months? What about single mother and father whose youngsters are residence as a result of their colleges are closed?