Yesterday I blogged about a crisis nurse Chelsea Walsh. She goes to the worst places where Covid-19 has broken out. She was asked, “How do people like the crisis nurses avoid getting sick?” The short answer is they don’t. They get sick too. Walsh said she was about due to get sick again. Yes again. She has got Covid-19 as have her friends who are nurses. Sometimes the 2nd or 3rd time they end up in the hospital. So she doesn’t go near her family. The last time she saw them she could not hug them. She hasn’t been able to embrace her family at all. “That’s hard,” she said. I bet. She knows how hard it is for her patients to be away from family because she is too. “But we do it because we care about everyone and we want to keep everyone safe.”
Then Hari Sreenivasan asked her an interesting question. “If you’re an independent contractor what is your health insurance like when you re going into these dangerous hospitals?” Walsh is in fact an independent contractor and she has been sick multiple times. So guess what? She doesn’t have any health insurance any more! She got cut off in May or June. The insurance company won’t take the chance on her. “So I can’t go to the hospital, if I get sick” she said. Welcome to America! Where, as everyone says, “We’re all in this together.” Not really. Like Orwell’s Animal Farm, some are in it more than others.
Walsh says there are a lot nurses right now who don’t get health coverage! Insurance companies have rejected them. And some of them like her, are going to the most dangerous places in the country. And they continue to work. Many face death or bankruptcy if they catch Covid-19. Yet they go.
This is incredibly unfair. In many cases if they catch Covid they are not covered. And sometimes the results are horrific. Some who caught Covid were fired from the job because they could not prove they caught it in the hospital rather than the grocery store. So some health care workers who are independent contractors, don’t have health insurance even if they are doing work that puts them in harm’s way. I wish Charles Dickens or George Orwell was around now to write a novel about this? The reality is that a nurse working in a hospital nurse on a Covid patient who gets sick and must be hospitalized might not be able to pay for her hospital stay. She would have to go bankrupt! Welcome to America.
This leads to the obvious question–so why do it? Walsh’s answer, “because everyone needs help.” She doesn’t know how much longer she or her co-workers can do it. Many of them feel like they are at their limit. Right now. As she said, “It seems like society is trying to pull the rubber band to see how far it can stretch. And that rubber band is just about to snap.” She also added, “It’s a very real possibility right now, that America may be left without hospitals in many places because the nurses will walk out or leave and will refuse to work in certain conditions.” Does that seem farfetched? I wish it did.