Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday & Wednesday.

Losing Doctors on the Battlefield

176 61 physicians have died in Italy. They’re also dying in France, Indonesia, and the Philippines. [tally updated 23 August 2020]

A 5-minute interview with Colleen Smith, an emergency room doctor at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York. This video DOES NOT address the issue of doctors dying. It provides insight into the current situation, and shows the exterior of a refrigerated truck being used for the dead. President Trump was reportedly referring to this hospital in his remarks last night about body bags in trucks: “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Italy’s national association for doctors says 176 61 of its members have now died from the coronavirus. An online list includes general practitioners, pediatricians, lung specialists, heart specialists, dentists, professors, as well as retirees who stepped forward to assist their still-practicing colleagues (list in translation here, original Italian-language list here).

In France, as of a week ago, the physician death toll had reached five.

In Indonesia, also as of a week ago, six doctors had died.

A recent news article reports that nine doctors have died in the Philippines “as hospitals were overwhelmed and medics complained about a lack of protection on the front lines.” Last week, three hospitals in Manila announced they were too full to accept new coronavirus patients.

Meanwhile, a doctor who works in the emergency department of a Washington, DC, hospital has written an article titled What Happens If Health-Care Workers Stop Showing Up? It includes these words of warning:

I worked in Liberia at the height of the Ebola epidemic, in the fall of 2014. After only a few months, many nurses, doctors, and community health-care workers grew sick and died; most of the rest quit; and the entire health-care system collapsed. Every hospital and clinic in the country closed.

…The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly not Ebola…but it raises an important practical and ethical question…How many of us will die before we start to walk away from our jobs?

…Six months into the 15-month Ebola epidemic, health-care providers stopped coming to work…There was nowhere for people to obtain treatment for stomach pain, childbirth, heart attacks, car crashes, or any other routine or unpredictable health event. As a result, experts estimate that more people died from illnesses like malaria and diarrhea than Ebola. [hyperlink in the original]

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This entry was posted on March 30, 2020 by in ethical & philosophical, health and tagged .
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