[community] Who gets medical care during the coronavirus pandemic - and what does that mean for people with disabilities?

John Rae thepenguin at rogers.com
Tue Apr 7 18:02:13 UTC 2020


Who gets medical care during the coronavirus pandemic - and what does that
mean for people with disabilities?

Rationing care could put disabled persons at risk; 'I'm nervous,' says
Manitoban with a disability

CBC News, Apr. 5, 2020

Am I worth it?

With the appearance of COVID-19, as a person with a disability, my life has
suddenly taken on more significance - or should I say insignificance? 

Finding myself expendable is, to say the least, alarming. 

It has been slightly more than two weeks since a public health emergency was
declared in Manitoba. 

Recently, I have read newspaper articles from the U.K., the United States
and Canada, where government and public health officials have begun floating
the idea that medical care should be rationed - and given only to those
individuals determined, as I interpret it, to be "worth saving."

In my opinion, disabled people were identified as disposable. 

What are the implications when human beings are reduced to a single factor
or narrow scale of usefulness - such as the elderly and the vulnerable?

The value of humanity is reduced, signaling devolution, and making the
arbitrary distinctions between "us" and "them" becomes that much easier.

What does that mean exactly? 

This is the ugly, simplistic part of human nature. 

Fear and ignorance have never been good partners in policy development. 

Throughout history, in times of difficulty, certain groups identified as
"different" (religious, racial, cultural and sexual minorities), have been
randomly singled out as "less worthy."

Disability is no exception to this phenomenon. 

How quickly we move from a society that values diversity and inclusion to
the point where difficult decisions will have to be made.
- Nancy Hansen

During the Nazi period prior to World War II, for example, people with
disabilities were among the first to be marked as unnecessary.

We are the world's largest minority, (1.3 billion people worldwide, and
about 20 per cent of the working age population in Canada, according to the
World Health Organization and Statistics Canada). 

Yet we are often readily dismissed and/or discounted. 

'Where do people with disabilities belong? Where do we fit?' during the
coronavirus pandemic, asks Nancy Hansen. 'These days it is not all that
clear.'  (Submitted by Nancy Hansen)

There are mixed messages being presented here. 

On a daily basis, we are told to use caution and limit social interaction in
order to protect vulnerable and elderly people. 

Yet, at the same time, in my opinion, directives are being discussed
concerning health care rationing to save those people considered more
important.  

How quickly we move from a society that values diversity and inclusion to
the point where difficult decisions will have to be made.  

However, those making the decisions are rarely members of the group most
impacted by them.  

Outdated beliefs about disability

The general public has had very little real contact with disabled people. 

Much of what is known about disability does not come from people with
disabilities themselves, but rather numerous outdated beliefs about
disability and disabled people. 

Among these are that we are unproductive, have a poor quality of life
(whatever that is), and perhaps most importantly, that we take up space that
should be used by able-bodied people. 

Before COVID-19, when I was out and about on my crutches in the midst of
daily life activity, strangers would stop and tell me that I was brave or
inspirational, simply for being out on my own. 

It would seem that expectation for social participation of people with
disabilities is quite low.

Where do people with disabilities belong? . These days, it is not all that
clear.
- Nancy Hansen

I am not convinced that medical professionals are immune to these
perceptions, either. Medical school provides little - if any - training on
disability or disability issues, from an independent living perspective.

The game has changed.

Services that were previously readily at hand are now determined to be
excessive - and therefore under threat. I'm talking about friends here who
use ventilators on a regular basis.

There is a certain level of irony here, as a friend recently reminded me.
The world would be a much different place if it were not for disabled
people. Think Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Franklin D. Roosevelt or
Stephen Hawking. 

Disabled people have played an important role in making life better for
everyone. In times of rationing, it would not bode well for these people
with disabilities. 

Where do people with disabilities belong? Where do we fit?  

These days, it is not all that clear. Often we have to make a case for being
here. 

Education is key and goes a long way to deal with myths and misconceptions
about disability and disabled people. 

We must look beyond outdated, arbitrary concepts of quality of life. Or we
may have to ask ourselves, "Is history repeating itself? And if so, who is
next?"

I am nervous.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitobans-disability-health-care-co
ronavirus-1.5520589



More information about the community mailing list