“Revolution all across the land.
Just like sly, you got to take a stand.
Please don’t hurt nobody, don’t knock them down;
Give them a helping hand to get off the ground.”
-Derek and The Dominoes (Got To Get Better In A Little While, 1970)

Got To Get Better In A Little While

Will be keeping today’s post quite brief.  Primarily wanted to wish all a happy and healthy New Year.  I also need to vent.  Lucky you for being my audience….

COVID Status Report

How do you say the situation is historically piss poor in a nice way?  On the bright side, we did not ring in the New Year with the extreme projections of death tallies.  That being said, we are setting daily records for hospitalizations and deaths.  Nearly 4,000 dying per day now.  And it’s only getting worse from here for the next couple of months.  We will start seeing the effects of Christmas week travel and hanging out.  The kicker is tonight which is exactly one week after Christmas when all those who got infected over Christmas, and may or may not be showing symptoms, share their love with friends and family in superspreader events across the land.

Our local area is continuing to see increased disease burden as well.  Yesterday, there were over 1600 positive tests in Suffolk County.  The percent of tests yielding a positive result was 8.3% in Suffolk County, so it is not just because there are more tests being conducted.  Suffolk County now has over 700 hospitalized with COVID, and is seeing double digits in daily deaths as well.

Amazing how the coverage of this has diminished being that the suffering nationwide is continuing to peak.  How can that be?  That’s right, the election is over, and the politicizing of all this is not nearly as entertaining.  We live in a first world nation, and yet in major cities we have resorted to treating COVID patients in the gift shops of hospitals.

To end this section on a positive note, vaccines are being administered, and if our government can get out of its own way and efficiently distribute them for administration, we may be planning the mother of all New Year’s parties next year.  Per Dr. Fauci, this may be possible as early as the Fall. Happy belated 80th birthday Dr. Fauci!

Systemic Disregard

Vaccinations have begun in the nation to protect from severe COVID related disease. This is extremely exciting as it is our fastest way out of our current circumstances.  These vaccines are currently in short supply and are being gradually introduced into the community based on risk.  At least in theory.

Why would I say in theory?  Because those in charge of our government are at best ignorant, at worst criminally selfish.  In any case, they are continually dropping the ball and placing lives at risk.  They are incapable of even following their own guidelines.

Over the last two weeks, I have spent more than 20 hours attempting to obtain immunizations for the providers and staff in our office that interact with patients.  I have been stonewalled at absolutely every turn.  As part of the state guidelines, Phase 1A for receiving COVID vaccines includes:

“Healthcare personnel (i.e. paid and unpaid personnel working in a healthcare setting), first responders in medical roles such as emergency medical services providers, Medical Examiners and Coroners, funeral workers, ambulatory care providers, and persons living in and working in Long Term Care Facilities (LTCFs) including congregate settings overseen by Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), Office of Mental Health (OMH) and Office of Addiction Service and Support (OASAS).”

I feel confident in stating that the members of our staff that take care of ill families and are performing 30-40 COVID swabs per day are considered ambulatory care providers.  We are often the first contact made with ill concerns.  We have been refused immunizations by Catholic Health Services hospitals, SUNY at Stony Brook, and Northwell Hospitals.  In all cases, we were given a run around of not knowing who can help, when they can help, or any suggestions as to how to obtain the vaccines.  While polite and empathetic, the bottom line was they refused to administer them.  Some expressed concerns that if they were able to give them to us Governor Cuomo would fine them.    However, this is a partial list of those I know for a fact were offered vaccines and/or actually vaccinated at these facilities:

Information Technology Workers with NO PATIENT INTERACTION

ADMINISTRATORS

Physical Therapists that work in outpatient facilities with NON-ILL PATIENTS

College students with part-time jobs in NON-ACUTE CARE SETTINGS

OPWDD workers who work in homes of NON-ILL CHILDREN (and are actually on leave to boot)

RETIRED workers

POLITICIANS (not sure which system provided them in their case)

**Pictured above is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, age 31 years, US Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district.  I do not believe she moonlights in any of the settings that are delineated in Phase 1A, yet she was able to receive the vaccine.

None of the folks on this list qualifies under the guidelines published by the DOH.  Why did they get them?  Because possession is 9/10 of the law.  These institutions were tasked to vaccinate the high risk and they refused to do so.  Worse yet, they used their supply to take care of THEIR OWN LOW-RISK employees.  They universally faulted the DOH and The State for poor guidance and stated they can only give the vaccines to those on lists they were provided.

I spoke and/or emailed with the offices of our local representatives as well as our representatives in Washington DC and the DOH.  They all provided me with the same guidelines as I had attached.  They all said they had no means to assist.  They all stated that they are sorry that we feel that the vaccines are being misappropriated.  NONE did a damn thing to get our office staff protected other than pass the buck to another government official.  At this point, the most recent correspondence went to Governor Cuomo.  That office also advised me yesterday that the vaccine will be available to folks like us next week.  There has been no interaction to ascertain who my staff is, their level of risk, their desire to be vaccinated, or any guidance as to where, when or how we are to actually obtain the vaccine.  Obviously, we will not be getting the vaccine early next week.

So to end my rant for the day, our politicians should hang their collective heads in shame over their mishandling of this situation.  They have again placed our lives at risk while looking out for their own.  The institutions which had opportunity to assist chose not to for their own self interests.  And all this at the peak of our exposure.  I wake every day and hope for the safety of the staff and myself in these times.

Coming Soon

If you made it this far, thanks for permitting me to vent.  Next week will return to a more typical blog style.  Sneak peak…..next week is the birthday of one of my all-time favorite artist as well as the anniversary of his passing.  I am hoping by then not to be Looking Back In Anger.  Don’t be cheating and Googling that…..

Happy New Year all!  May it bring you health and a return to a more normal lifestyle.  Please try tonight not to add kerosene to the dumpster fire that is ongoing in these parts.

Post authored by Jason Halegoua PhD, MD, MBA, FAAP.  Jason is the founder of Peds First Pediatrics in 2009, and has been a practicing general pediatrician since completing residency at Schneider Children’s Hospital in 2004.  In addition to earning his medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania, Jason earned a PhD in Molecular Pathobiology for his work contributing to the understanding of the genetic regulation of immune responses to murine leukemia viruses from Hahnemann University in Philadelphia and an MBA in Finance from Hofstra University.