The novel coronavirus of 2019 has had a permanent impact on
the American lexicon. New words and phrases have become common
knowledge, phrases like “personal protective equipment (PPE)”, “with
an abundance of caution”, and “social distancing”. But one phrase has
crept back into the conversations of leaders that should have never
been spoken. That phrase is, “an acceptable loss”.
Ours is a throwaway society. We tend to use things up and
discard them. Instead of repairing things, we just buy replacements,
the latest clothes, the latest technology, the latest car model. But our
loved ones in long-term care facilities cannot be replaced. They are not people to be discarded. And losing them unnecessarily to COVID-19 is never an acceptable loss.
My grandmother told me an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Yet our long-term care facilities had to fight over personal protective equipment with hospitals, hospice agencies, first responders and other states in order to provide the protection they should always have at the ready.
We have been calling on nursing homes to be prepared with back-up generators, medication and proper training to deal with dementia. We have fought hard for residents’ rights including the right to have a video camera in their room. Now, it is time to look again at how long-term care facilities are
required to prepare for pandemics.
I suppose it is ironic that most PPE is “disposable”. But our seniors are
not. Because of our lack of preparation, they are living isolated away from friends
and loved ones. They are living in fear. They are dying unnecessarily.
It is not acceptable to lose contact with loved ones. It is not acceptable to lose
safety. And it is not acceptable to lose one’s life because we were ill-prepared.
Let’s move forward with careful attention to the impact our actions have on
our loved ones in long-term care. And let’s count the cost.