This is not the America, I once knew. I used to be immensely proud to be an American. This country provided oxygenation to me and all its citizens, based on the fundamental principals of the first amendment. We were a nation that fought for civil rights and social justice and valued personal freedom and democracy.
The key tenets of the constitution are still in place. Recently they have been violated by the Governor of New York, during the current coronavirus pandemic, thus failing to uphold the inalienable rights that Americans have trusted for decades – Civil Liberties and Human Rights.
On March 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued an advisory regarding hospital visitations. All visitations were suspended, except where end of life decisions needed to be made. This order forbids anyone, friend or relative, from being at the patient’s bedside. Essentially, this has translated into lack of advocacy, and severe neglect and abuse of patients. Critically ill patients are struggling for their basic needs without someone to advocate for them. Families are left feeling hopeless and frustrated, and in some cases were not even given the opportunity to say goodbye to their loved ones.
During a pandemic, such as the one we are experiencing now, we rely on our leaders to govern and make decisions regarding healthcare. At the same time, they must abide by the law, and not infringe on Human Rights. These rights must stay front and center and be protected with proportionate sensitivity.
This leads us to wonder, what happened to the New York Health Care Proxy law? It is a written statement appointing a family member or close family friend, to make healthcare decisions, should one lose the ability to do so. Is it no longer valid, or does it no longer have any legal value? How are the patient’s wishes to be respected if there is no liason to communicate with the medical staff?
What a tragedy. Many Americans are dying alone without their families being there in their greatest hour of need, with no one there to ask the crucial questions that would reaffirm and provide clarity to the patient’s healthcare plan.
There is horrific anecdotal evidence of patients being left in corridors to die, because critical care was not provided soon enough. Why? An elderly friend of mine was beaten by a nurse, and suffered extensive bruises and lacerations. Why? A respected community member suffered from starvation and dehydration and was deprived of basic care for days on end in the hospital. THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!!
There are many more stories of unethical and inhumane treatment in New York City hospitals. Our loved ones are withering away and dying due to lack of care, without the benefit of intervention by friends and relatives.
Bedside advocacy is the only possible answer. We need to unite as one people and defend the rights of our loved ones. Governor Cuomo’s visitation restrictions, have not only violated patient’s rights, they have resulted in lost lives.
I plead with community leaders and politicians, to utilize their influence, to save the lives of their constituents and members of their community. Prior to the pandemic, those very same leaders and politicians, who were hospitalized, can attest to the favorable impact, both physical and psychological, of having a loved one at their bedside.
I implore you to reach out to Governor Cuomo, and demand that he reverse this executive order, and allow one person to be present at the patient’s bedside who will protect and advocate for human rights.
A Social worker in New York.
NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.
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