Please read this commentary to the end or you will not get the point. I had a visit to the emergency room at Cleveland Clinic’s Florida facility.
It started with a bit of coughing, which I first decided to stick with home care – as I have always done with colds and flu. This one got nastier and nastier with deep convulsive coughs to clear the lungs. I started feeling very weak. That is when I decided to head to the emergency room. After all, I am one of those in the high-risk category – over 60 (by a lot) and with a few of those “underlying issues.”
The emergency room was jammed like I had never seen it. The medical staff was actually starting to deal with patients in the waiting room – interviewing patients, taking temperatures and even drawing blood. (For clarification, the above photo was not taken during my visit, but is very reflective of what it looked like).
I was eventually called into the emergency room itself. Every bay was occupied, and the open area was a sea of gurneys. I had to wait an unusually long time to even get the attention of a doctor or nurse. In fact, my friend had to go to the desk to inquire when I see someone.
After a brief examination, I was wheeled off to get an x-ray. The hallway to radiology was lined patients on gurneys. It was a long time before I saw a doctor with the results. He determined that I could be sent home.
Two days later, my condition worsened. I could hardly get out of bed. I could not recall a time I felt sicker – even endangered. I had my friend drive me back to the hospital. It was as crowded as ever. The doctor said that my numbers were not good – and that I was very lucky to return to the hospital when I did. I well understood what he intimated.
He said I would have to stay, but they had no available beds in the hospital. I was attached to three of those intravenous lines and wheeled into a storage room – and there I spent the night with staff occasion dropping in to get supplies.
Now for the important part.
THIS WAS NOT RECENT, BUT LATE LAST SUMMER. IT WAS LONG BEFORE THE CORONAVIRUS. IT WAS DURING ONE OF THOSE TYPICAL ANNUAL OUTBREAKS OF THE FLU. I WAS TOLD IT WAS A PARTICULARLY NASTY NEW FLU — AND THAT THERE WAS NOT YET A VACCINATION FOR IT.
I was sent home the next day – with my body rehydrated and whatever else was in those bottles – and provided with a couple of prescriptions. I was still coughing a lot but assured that it would subside in a few days– and it did.
According to the reports, last year’s flu hit millions of Americans and thousands died from it – hitting hardest on compromised seniors. And yet, there was no Draconian shut down of the world economy. No 24/7 hyperbolic news reports. For the most part, the world – and the United States—went about its normal business.
I am at a loss to understand – much less explain – why the Coronavirus is being handled so dramatically different. Yes, it has a little higher death rate than the seasonal flu – currently running around 1.6 percent in America – but not nearly as high as MERS (35%) or SARS (15%). In the case of SARS, the death rate for seniors was an astounding fifty percent, according to the World Health Organization. And even then, we did not shut down the entire world economy. Far from it.
I follow the news very closely — and try to watch every White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing – and yet I have not heard a satisfactory answer to why this time is so dramatically different. Are we paying too high of a price? Is the cure worst than the disease? I really do not have an answer — but I do wonder.
So, there ‘tis.