In times of crisis, we turn to the professionals who put their lives at risk in a selfless attempt to protect our communities. But a recent string of TikTok videos has caused the community to question: What's really going on?
As time went by, the quest to find the answer became a personal matter. In early February, I was diagnosed with three abnormal growths, and with a strong history of cancer in my family, I sought a quick resolution to avoid delaying treatment and therefore prevent any additional damage that could come from not acting on this in a timely manner.
My doctor recommended I’d do a follow-up a month later. This issue was always in the back of my mind. After realizing that the problem was aggravating, the scheduled visits to the doctor became more frequent. We attempted to collect more tissue through curettage, but the process was painful and, eventually, due to the discomfort caused by this procedure, I was unable to ultimately have it performed. My doctor tried everything and anything that she could to help me at her local office, but there was only so much she could do.
The prospect of having surgery had been discussed before, and I had prepared mentally for it. But unfortunately, it could not be performed in her office, and the nearby hospital, Cone Health, had followed the trend of hospitals across the country and declined to see patients for elective procedures, in order to save protective personal equipment (PPE) in preparation for the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pandemic’s Impact on Elective Medical Care
This unprecedented action left me clueless as to what to think. I didn’t know they could do that, and the more I dove into the issue of the indefinitely long denial of elective surgeries, the more I was shocked that such a serious measure was taken by hospitals. They were essentially delaying care to patients and creating a backlog for health services that could cause many deaths, in order to ensure they were not overwhelmed and would be able to service the patients from this pandemic. But those patients never came.
I reached out to the hospital chain and the result of our conversation you can find below:
As you can learn from their webpage, this hospital chain has over 12,000 employees and operates across North Carolina. And, according to the information received above, there were only 30 patients being seen for COVID-19 at the time. The reality of diminishing revenues due to denial of elective surgeries was reflecting as layoffs, and furloughs of medical professionals became their only option.
The reality of diminishing revenues due to denial of elective surgeries was reflecting as layoffs and furloughs.
As a patient denied care, this didn’t make sense to me. And I assumed that many others with conditions considered elective would be feeling the effects of the delay of their treatment in the long run as well. I decided to dig deeper and ran into an unfortunate trend on the internet: TikTok videos.
Dancing Nurses on TikTok
At first, the narrative surrounding the justification for such videos was that those professionals were overwhelmed and blowing off steam. But as videos became more frequent and with more lewd and shocking content (while at the same time the general public was learning about hospitals being empty), it became hard to justify the actions of these medical professionals, especially considering that entire economies were closed in order to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system.
This week a video that I shared went viral, displaying healthcare workers in a medical environment holding a dummy as a fake body with the word COVID-19 on it while they danced down the hall. The video sparked outrage even from those who initially had claimed to understand the reason behind the videos of the dancing nurses.
Reality came crashing down clear on all of us that most hospitals were not overwhelmed, and that the excuse given by government officials to keep us under stay home orders wasn't valid. In fact, the possible unconstitutionality of such orders and the difficulty to present this as a pandemic while hospitals were empty and healthcare workers were being furloughed, led to a string of mass protests and confrontations between citizens and law enforcement.
The situation was aggravated by a lack of clear guidance and information, conflicting data, and conflicting actions by the part of government officials. The White House had initially promoted a “15 days to slow the spread” initiative, which envisioned that if we stayed at home for 15 days, the curve of growth in the number of COVID-19 cases would be flattened, allowing the economy to reopen. That initiative was rolled out March 16. We’re in May now, and the economy remains closed.
Reality came crashing down clear on all of us that most hospitals were not overwhelmed.
The Crisis Obviously Isn't As Bad As We Were Told
The guidance on social distancing, wearing or not wearing masks, the efficacy of hand sanitizer, etc., kept changing, and the public was growing impatient. The origin of this virus also remains unclear. The fact is that many businesses, especially small businesses, don’t have enough cash to be operating and paying their fixed expenses without receiving any source of revenue, and tough decisions had to be made. Millions of Americans were pushed to unemployment, and family businesses were forever closed.
For the millions of Americans who were suffering due to the decision of government officials to close the economy, and the decision of hospitals to deny elective surgery, the TikTok videos were anything but funny. They came out as a tone-deaf message of mockery which was truly the last thing we needed in the face of an economic depression, and it took away from the initial narrative of healthcare workers being overworked heroes, to sowing discontent in the general public with the medical class overall.
The truth is that, for most of us, dancing and wasting precious work resources during our work hours would likely lead to, at a minimum, a serious conversation with the Human Resources department, and by doing this in light of a pandemic, the videos did not digest well with the masses, especially the working class. Noticing how these dances were choreographed (which would demand more time and effort), the number of workers involved, or even the use of hospital equipment in a reckless manner was too much for many of us to handle, and it prompted a general distrust in the system that we just didn’t need at this time.
Everyone understands the need to blow off steam and decompress from time to time, but in the middle of a serious crisis, these videos and performances are tone-deaf and unwelcome. There's nothing to be celebrated about this situation, and while we brace ourselves for the impact that we're yet to feel from these lockdown measures, we expect empathy and support from the medical class to allow us to trust this system once more, but with the direction that things are going, this trust looks to be one we may never regain.