The President Killed My Mom

My Mom died Saturday morning, June 27, 2020 because of COVID-19 not from COVID-19. I hold this President responsible.

Let me explain what I mean. Mom did not die from COVID. She passed away on a Saturday morning in her sleep. She had not been to the hospital, or was ever exposed to COVID. However, because of the incompetent way this Administration refused to move aggressively to stop the virus in its tracks, communities and nursing homes had to develop plans for keeping both their patients and staff safe. Baptist Memorial which is now a part of Buckner Benevolences, went into lock down. As you might remember in the first spread of the deadly virus, nursing homes were the site of multiple deaths. So Baptist Memorial locked down Mom’s Sagecrest nursing home. What that meant was that visitors were turned away, no one but staff, medical personnel were allowed in. All routine activities such as the beauty shop, exercise, eating with other residents over lunch was stopped. So patients in the nursing home were cut off from each other and family.

When a family member goes to the nursing home, if they have family support and visits, their lives are enriched and for the most part prolonged. However, when everything stops, the mental health of residents deteriorates.

After lock down, Mom quit answering her phone on Saturday morning. This long standing appointment had been our habit for over 20 years. Each Saturday morning, about 8:30, I would get a cup of coffee and call Mom and chat.

She started to hallucinate and be disoriented and confused. She called me one afternoon and I was unable to pick up, but when I called her back, she was very confused. She told me she was homeless, had no money and was with others who were homeless too. It was a heartbreaking call, but patiently I walked her back to reality and reassured her she was not alone, the friends with her were not homeless, and she had everything she needed.

Medical folks recognize that as ICU psychosis. So little changes in the ICU that often patients loose track of time, visitors are restricted, and they struggle mentally and emotionally. That is what has happened around the country with folks who are in nursing homes. My brother and his family were finally able to visit through her window, but the trajectory was already set. When her condition worsened, the facility allowed Jim and Linda to come in and sit with her a while. She slept and occasionally opened her eyes. Jim came again, but got less response, and in his last visit, the Doctor said she was placing her on “end of life care.” She died the next morning.

When we calculate the death toll of COVID, my mother will not be in that number. She did not die with the virus, she died because of it. There are thousands of others who have the same story. Nursing Homes doing the best with the hand they were dealt, vigilantly protecting those in their charge, but isolating patients as the best way to protect them. However, for many, that effectively began their move to death.

I say this to point out some everyone of us should know. This President and his administration has failed this nation. His failure to act swiftly, decisively, with the input of scientist and trained medical professionals had unleashed a scourge on this nation which continues to this day. Every day you have to wear a mask is a token of the failure of this President and his administration. Every death from COVID is on him(180,000+), every death because of COVID is on him. The economic downturn and the loss of millions of jobs are on him. The inadequate leadership, the chronic failure of empathy, the nepotism, the corruption, the squandered opportunities to make the world a better place are on him. The mistreatment of illegal immigrant children is on him. The undermining of our institutions like the Supreme Court, the Justice Department, the United States Postal Service, Education, and on and on. It is all on him.

Because of the failure of this President and his party, states, cities and counties are having to find their own way and do what is best for all. Today, I scheduled a visit with a treatment team to hopefully be a part of a COVID vaccine. That is something anyone can do. More than likely, there are trials being run in your area. Some of whom they most need are people of color and those with underlying conditions.

At this point, it appears to me that for millions of us, a vaccine is our only hope.

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