As of today, over 374,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, a travesty in a nation with access to exponential wealth and one of the most advanced heath care systems. How we earned the “Most Killed by Corona” superlative can only be accredited to dismal leadership and the failure to roll out a unified plan for prevention.
Now, with a vaccine on the horizon providing much-needed hope, the question that remains is whether the same disastrous patchwork approach that caused the problem will be applied to the solution? There is little oversight on the distribution protocol, leaving decisions about eligibility to state and local authorities as well as to individual providers. The lack of structure leaves a gaping (loop) hole for greed, favoritism, elitism and corruption to seep through.
Case in point, a recent Washington Post article published on January 5, 2021 alleges MorseLife Health System, a high-end nursing home and assisted-living facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., offered wealthy donors coronavirus vaccines earmarked for nursing home residents. The article reveals shocking testimonials from members of the Morselife Board of Directors and major donors who were “invited” to get the vaccine by the facility’s chief executive, Keith Myers. MorseLife is characterized as “an atmosphere of luxury, outstanding service, and compassionate care.” Compassionate care requires putting the needs of vulnerable residents above the self-interest of wealthy donors.
Nursing home attorney Sean Domnick has received endless inquiries from family members who lost loved ones in nursing homes due to COVID. He said today, “There has been so much grief and loss surrounding this pandemic. It’s horrific to think that anyone would rig the system to favor the fortunate instead of saving the vulnerable.”
The CDC has reported that 8 out of 10 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have been in adults age 65 and older. In places like Florida, many of them are residents of nursing home and assisted living facilities, who sadly passed without the comfort of loved ones in their final days. The staggering loss of life in these facilities is one of the many realities our conscience will need to reconcile when we look back and reflect on the unnecessary casualties caused by the blundering mismanagement of this pandemic.
The vaccine presents an opportunity to finally offer our most vulnerable citizens protection. The idea that private facilities have the leverage to use it to glad-hand future donors at expense of human life is despicable.
While there are times that we hope everyone has the human decency to do the right thing, this pandemic has highlighted how much disregard for human life exists amongst elements of society. Regulation is not always the solution, but in times like this where greed can conquer human decency, having an airtight plan to protect critical populations is essential.