Letter: Virus shows how fragile our health care can be

Posted 4/7/20

To the editor:

None of us have ever experienced anything quite like this before — the rise of a highly contagious illness has completely changed our way of life. For so many families these …

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Letter: Virus shows how fragile our health care can be

Posted

To the editor:

None of us have ever experienced anything quite like this before — the rise of a highly contagious illness has completely changed our way of life. For so many families these changes are devastating.  Many people have lost their jobs, or significant income in the last few weeks and, as a result, have been forced off of their employer-provided healthcare. They are frightened that if they contract the virus, they won’t be able to afford treatment for themselves or their family. 

While this is a global crisis, similar situations can occur each time someone is diagnosed with a major illness. Imagine being diagnosed with a chronic illness which inhibits your ability to work, therefore making you uninsurable at the time when you need that assistance the most. 

This crisis has brought to the forefront problems that too many Rhode Islanders experience every day. For some, the lack of paid time off, the lack of health insurance, and food insecurities are a part of daily life. We are now all able to see the impacts of these insecurities more clearly.  During this time of crisis the Governor has stepped forward to meet the needs of Rhode Islanders with access to healthcare, paid time off and food assistance. During ordinary times these needs are just as important to the vulnerable among us. 

As we work to heal and rebuild from this, we are going to need real change. We have an opportunity to learn from this. People need paid sick time and family leave so that they can stay home and care for themselves or a loved one, and prevent the community spread of illness. Access to healthcare should no longer be tied to employment.  It must be something that is available to everyone, working or unemployed, well or sick, rich or poor.

Having healthcare workers included in the discussion and planning of how to move forward to address the pitfalls of our current healthcare system will be extremely valuable.  

My heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by this crisis. We all have a greater sense of how interconnected we really are. Let’s take this moment to reflect on how we can make things better for all of us. 

Michelle McGaw

Pharmacist and candidate for District 71 State Representative

Portsmouth

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.