An academic physician working in Washington, DC, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from their employers, told Radio Sputnik’s Political Misfits that equipment shortages, wage and benefit cuts for staff and overcrowding at hospitals amid the US COVID-19 outbreak are a direct product of the American “health abuse” system.
“I think it’s a health abuse system that profits off of people’s sickness and the workers that are employed. This isn’t an accident; this isn’t a failure of the system in that sense. This is exactly what it does, right? At the end, health is a commodity, and when people are getting sick, insurance companies raise premiums, revenues will get cut, nurses will get fired,” the physician told hosts Bob Schlehuber and Jamarl Thomas on Wednesday.
“Things are building up … The hospitals are now full of COVID patients. We are not there yet in DC but we are right on track … the victims are disproportionately going to be mostly poor black people, indigenous people, other minorities including immigrants who are at risk for any disease and are at high risk for this disease,” the physician explained.
According to a recent report by Bloomberg, hospitals across the nation have fired health care workers for speaking out about their working conditions during the pandemic, which include a lack of personal protective equipment. In addition, some doctors and nurses at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, are seeing their wages cut, and more than 1,100 Atrius Health physicians are receiving reduced paychecks or unpaid furloughs, Politico reported.
“What we see is health care workers going into work scared. People are getting sick … hospitals don’t care. Administrators and CEOs care about profits. There are health care workers crying in hallways [due to] this emotional stress … I know health care workers who have been writing up their wills in the middle of all of this,” they said.
The physician told Sputnik the worst thing is, “there hasn’t been any transparency. Doctors and nurses and other frontline workers have been threatened and even fired for speaking up, for telling the truth, which is why I am anonymous right now.”
“We have always been understaffed. This has always been a dangerous system, and we are just seeing that get magnified.”
New York is the state that has been hit hardest by the pandemic, currently having more than 83,000 cases of the coronavirus, and New York City health care workers have been urged by the city’s Health Department to “conserve all personal protective equipment” by reusing masks, goggles and gowns.
“We have entered an unprecedented moment in what will be an extended period of challenges. . . These conditions will persist for weeks, if not months,” Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the New York City Health Department’s deputy commissioner of disease control, said in a Wednesday advisory to local hospitals, the New York Post reported.
“People are disposable,” the anonymous DC physician told Sputnik, adding that this applies to both patients and the health care workers who take care of them.
“We need sick leave. We need testing. We need free health care. This is not going to stop right now. These people are going to be sick. If they survive, they’re going to get thousands of dollars of bills. Who ’s going to pay for that? We need to make sure that they can,” the physician added.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.