Like everyone else, COVID-19 has been a major topic of conversation among friends and family. I’ve heard a lot of talk about the rather high survival rate for the virus. One of the reasons for this is the rapid response of healthcare teams around the globe. As someone who works in hospital operations, I have seen how the effects of the virus have put a strain on our health providers and systems.
This virus has proven to be quite contagious, causing high check-in rates, hence concerns over hospital capacity. Although the majority who contract the virus won’t die, to ensure mortality rates stay low many will need direct medical observation. If infection rates continue to rise, the funnel grows larger for people who will need the watchful eye of a health provider team, and this comes with unintended consequences. Many are worried, and rightfully so, about how the mandates and recommendations around the pandemic will affect the economy and standard of living in the United States. If little to no action is taken, one component of healthcare in the United States may come under attack: freedom to choose.
This freedom can become compromised because although our brilliant providers are equipped to help everyone there are only so many of them, meaning they simply cannot help every individual. This will lead to rationing of care, meaning some who could normally afford treatment will be turned away because they don’t fit predetermined criteria for who can get care. It is a simple reality that no one wants to face, but is becoming more prevalent every day.
Opponents of socialized medicine have fought against it for years, partially over concerns of health rationing, (i.e. committees making decisions on who will or will not be cared for). Some version of this is already happening, with emergency rooms in the United States being unable to transfer non-COVID patients to intensive care units because they are already filled with people receiving care for COVID-19 who would die without being under careful watch. A recent report of a Utah woman who suffered a heart attack and had to be revived four times in the ambulance while hospitals tried to make room for her is a sobering wake-up call to how this could soon become the norm.
One way to help avoid this facet of socialized medicine creeping into the United States is to help reduce infection rates. Evidence states that even if a mask is not 100% effective in avoiding contraction of the virus, it can lead to fewer particles being inhaled and thus reducing the severity of symptoms. This will, in turn, prevent many who get sick from having to be hospitalized, freeing up space for real emergencies.
Wearing a mask doesn’t have to be a symbol of fear; instead, it can be a symbol of conserving a vision of the American way.
Joseph is a long-time advocate for the West Side of Salt Lake City who has worked in varying levels of healthcare, both on the front lines with patients and in administration. He currently works at Intermountain Medical Center, researching hospital workflows as he pursues his Doctorate of Business Administration. He also serves on West View Media’s Board of Directors.