NY State Governor Cuomo has been working very hard to get his state ready for the influx of patients expected due to covid-19. He has called for retired doctors and nurses to come out of retirement to fight on the front line of the virus. While I am very impressed with his determination to proactively get the medical field ready, THIS is a mistake. Here is why:
Those retired medical workers are invaluable to us right now but not on the front line of the virus. They are in some of the highest risk groups for complications and death cause by the virus. However their knowledge and experience are invaluable to us.
We need to call on young and already recovered individuals to volunteer for medical training and we need those retired doctors and nurses to teach them. In as little as 8 weeks people can be trained to existing certification standards in taking vitals, triaging, intake, assessment, phlebotomy and IV insertion, emergency child birth, wound care and even non complex sutures. Plus many other lower skilled medical duties.
Just because we have the pandemic to deal with, it does not mean that regular illness and injuries do not occur. If we train a large amount of people in those lower level skills it would free up doctors and nurses already fighting the virus to focus on the more critical patients and duties. We then need those called up retirees to be working with some of the newly trained volunteers to take care of non-covid-19 patients. We also need a separate place away from the locations where covid-19 patients are treated, otherwise they risk being infected when they seek treatment.
Only when we have the people we need trained and the non-covid-19 medical centers staffed, should any high risk retired doctors and nurses be placed on the front line of the virus. It is important that we move quickly to solve the problems this pandemic will cause, but not at the expense of wasting valuable resources. And make no mistake, those doctors and nurses are one of the most valuable resources we have. Simply calling them up, especially when we don't have enough protective gear, and letting them get critically ill and even die is not only wasteful but a tragedy.
I urge anyone who reads this to send it to their local representatives, hospital administrators and anyone else you can think of. We need to move quickly both to avoid a terrible mistake and to get the people we need trained and ready to treat patients. This plan not only gives us the extra staff we need but it helps ensure that even if the aspect of the healthcare system dealing with covid-19 is overwhelmed, the people and lives saved everyday from other illness and injury, will still be able to be treated. That is a win win in my book.
This rough proposal needs to get looked at and refined by government and hospital administrations to flesh out the details and handle the logistics. The American people are ready and waiting to act to protect and help their communities. They just need the authorities to put out the call.