The new threat to health care is not privatization, it’s viral

The COVID pandemic has gone viral. I don’t mean the Delta variant. I mean the mania created by antivaxxers who have whipped up opposition to panic levels.

Potesters in front of Kamloops hospital image: CFJC Today

Antivaxxers are angry over their perceived loss of rights. At a Trudeau rally in Bolton, Ontario on Aug 27, 2021, dozens of protesters, some holding babies, shouted expletives, waved middle fingers, and made references to Nazis over megaphones. The rally was cancelled over safety concerns.

The viral nature of antivaxxers is not even about the disease –it’s about their purported rights and freedoms. Their rights are being infringed, they claim. They have the constitutional right to infect others with a potentially deadly disease because they selfishly refuse to be vaccinated.  

That’s the nature of viral crazes –they’re irrational.

Antivaxxers are mad as hell at the B.C. government for introducing vaccine cards. Some business owners have threatened not to screen customers for the card. But if they thought about it, they’d realize that customers are less likely to enter their premises if their health is at risk.

To be clear, I’m not saying that those who haven’t yet been vaccinated are antivaxxers. Most of the unvaccinated are not against the jab, they just haven’t found the time or motivation. Motivation was provided with the announcement of vaccine cards and vaccination clinics are suddenly busy.

In an attempt to invent a reason to call an election, Prime Minister Trudeau is trying scare voters into believing that the Conservatives will put an end to our cherished public health care system. He defended a tweet in his deputy prime minister that painted Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole as an advocate for private health care.

Twitter marked Trudeau’s retweet of the edited video of O’Toole as ‘Manipulated media.’

What O’Toole actually said was that that he wanted to find public-private synergies. Later, he said that he “100 per cent” supports the public and universal system and pointed to a promised $60 billion in health funding in his platform.

Nice try Prime Minister, but the immediate threat is not privatization but burnout of health care workers. Yes, privatization is a perennial threat but the urgent threat is the fatigue experienced by health care workers.

Nurses are suffering from burnout and frustration. They are tired of caring for COVID infected people who refuse to get vaccinated. Patients get sick from a preventable disease and then look for sympathetic treatment. Nurses are leaving Royal Inland Hospital at alarming rates.

However, the viral mania seems to have spread to some nurses as well. 

A group called “Canadian Frontline Nurses (CFN)” is advertising protests against vaccine mandates, which are slated to take place at Kelowna General Hospital, Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, and other cities across the country. The CFN website states their mission:

“To restore our freedoms and rights as Canadian citizens and reinstate the four ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice within nursing.”

A Royal Inland Hospital nurse told iNFOnews.ca that she is concerned about protests in front of the hospital.

Instead of investing reasons for an election, that is nothing but a power grab, Trudeau should address the immediate problems of our health care system.

Languishing: the malaise of our pandemic times

Our journey through this pandemic is unprecedented in modern times.

image: NBC News

We won’t know what the exact effects of the pandemic will be until it’s over.

Meanwhile, psychologists suggest that if we can find words that describe how we feel now it helps us cope; words like “grief” and “languishing.”

I thought it might be helpful if I could find the expanded use of commons words during the last pandemic of 1918. But I couldn’t.

Instead, I did find some technical terms in the aftermath of the Spanish Flu epidemic. We know that fifty million people died globally in four waves during the pandemic. And, similar to this third wave of this COVID pandemic, it hit young people hard. Many died within three days of showing symptoms.

One diagnosis from the Spanish flu pandemic was “encephalitis lethargica.” It was characterized by excessive sleepiness, abnormal eye movements, fever, and movement disorders, although virtually no neurological sign or symptom could be found. The chronic phase was characterized by Parkinson-like signs that could last months, even a year, after the pandemic ended.

“Grief” is one of those words for which the meaning can be expanded to describe the way we now feel. One dictionary meaning is: “deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.” But more recently, the definition of grief has been expanded to mean “mourning the loss of normalcy.” Psychologist Adam Grant says that the expanded meaning of grief gives a sense of familiarity:

“[The expanded meaning of grief] gave us a familiar vocabulary to understand what had felt like an unfamiliar experience. Although we hadn’t faced a pandemic before, most of us had faced loss. It helped us crystallize lessons from our own past resilience — and gain confidence in our ability to face present adversity (New York Times, May 4).”

Languishing is another useful word. Dictionary meanings include: to be or become feeble, weak, as in Plants languish in the drought. Adam Grant expands the definition:

“It wasn’t burnout — we still had energy. It wasn’t depression — we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing.

Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.”

Languishing is the “blah” feeling we have during the pandemic.

I originally read Adam Grant’s column in the New York Times after my cousin sent me a link. She added: “I think these days I’m languishing. Seems I’m putting in time until we can travel and see people again. Melancholy isn’t the right word.”

Part of the danger is that when you’re languishing, you might not notice the dulling of delight or the dwindling of your drive. You don’t catch yourself slipping slowly into solitude; you’re indifferent to your indifference. When you can’t see your own suffering, you don’t seek help or even do much to help yourself.

If this pandemic is like the last, we will experience depression and anxiety disorders for years, even if we aren’t suffering from symptoms today.