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cool44man's picture

Pandemics, Death, and Quality of life (TW: disregard for human life)

Reading that there are still issues with how we are handling the pandemic after it has been happening for a year is, quite frankly, sad. I have seen first-hand the blatant discrimination against both disabled and older individuals received at the hands of the health systems alone. I know many people have had trouble getting non-covid related healthcare. There are very few appointments available for necessary care, such as physicals, gynecology, and GI care. Unfortunately, the rules around telehealth visits, designed initially to be an accessible alternative, are limiting and discriminatory. In Illinois, to be in a telehealth visit, you cannot have someone else with you on the call. These regulations make it more difficult for older folks and anyone with memory issues or limited access to technology. In addition, a person must be inside of Illinois to receive a telehealth visit. This disadvantages disabled people who have limited control over their own lives. This rule even affected me: I had to lie and say I went to college at Northwestern to keep my appointment. The current healthcare system damages the community that needs it most. The question then becomes, how can we create a system that guarantees that all people receive the same quality of care. We should restructure the triage system to save as many people from the COVID variants as possible in the short term. However, it is unclear how to create a sound system working within the constructs of people’s biases. The only way I think the triage system can be made fair within a limited timeframe is to operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. While I have other hopes for a new healthcare system in the future, that will not be possible without reforming other institutions and restructuring biases.

Speaking of biases affecting the structure of institutions, the triage system is ageist and ableist due to the general misconceptions about death and quality of life. Many people treat disabled and old people like they have nothing to add to society and cannot have a good “quality of life.” Therefore, people who rely on interdependence to succeed are wholly ignored. This is not just a hypothetical to me either: my dad refuses to see my 95-year-old great-grandad who needs help because “he’s going to die soon anyway.” I genuinely do not understand the rationale of people who think this way. They are likely to become old or possibly become disabled one day, so I wonder if those people would want the same treatment. On that note, why would people actively want others to die by not wearing a mask or refusing to help people that need it? I do not see how that benefits them in any way. If I have any advice, people have one life, so I hope they use it to act with kindness and leave the world a better place than they found it.