Poli-ticks

Arlene Violet: Is eugenics at work in Rhode Island?

By Arlene Violet
Posted 5/8/20

Massachusetts has an interesting guideline when it comes to rationing ventilators and ICU beds. Even in the case of equal medical need and equal likelihood of success, the younger person gets the …

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Poli-ticks

Arlene Violet: Is eugenics at work in Rhode Island?

Posted

Massachusetts has an interesting guideline when it comes to rationing ventilators and ICU beds. Even in the case of equal medical need and equal likelihood of success, the younger person gets the ventilator or bed while grandma exits stage left. While there are rationalizations for such a choice none hold any water upon examination. Sure, I’d hope that someone younger could go through the stages of life but what about the senior citizen who faced a lifetime of poverty, discrimination and toil and finally made it to old age to enjoy life? Isn’t he/she equally entitled to value the last decade or two on earth as does the young person with 40 plus years ahead of them?

Recently, Kathrine Gregg of the Providence Journal asked an important question of Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott. If given the number of seniors dying in nursing homes, did they have access to ventilators and/or transport to a hospital. The doctor skirted the answer. Because journalists weren’t in the room for a follow-up (which should be changed to in-present attendance, at least after stay-at-home rules are relaxed on May 9) the doctor was allowed to duck the question. She needs to answer it now.

We need to know if those in nursing homes are disposable and whether their deaths were really because of old age complications or because measures that would be implemented for somebody younger wasn’t used because of their age. The state gives lip service to equal treatment but just how many congregant patients were sent to a hospital or put on a ventilator in situ, if they couldn’t be moved? The failure of any straightforward answer to Ms. Gregg’s question has me wondering.

The answer, of course, is a bit personal for me on two fronts. My mother lived to be 100 years old plus and spent her last 5 years in an assisted living facility one mile from my home. (Yes, I asked her to live with me but she wouldn’t hear of it — must have been my cooking!). On my daily visits I witnessed how much she enriched the lives of her fellow residents and the staff because of her gratitude for the slightest gesture of kindness. Her ministry of spreading cheer was palpable. Had she been subjected to a pandemic her life was so valuable to others I’d want the best treatment for her just as I want it for today’s seniors.

I am also one of those seniors. I work a full time as well as a part-time job. I spend hundreds of hours a year as an unpaid trustee for Roger Williams University. I’d like to think that I donate time and treasure to numerous causes. I find that, thank God, I have more stamina than a lot of folks half my age as do most of my friends. I would hope that my fate wouldn’t be sealed just because I am an old dame. I could understand, though, if the politicians pulled my plug because of the years of aggravation I have given them, including in this column!
More seriously, I want transparency on how many of the sick congregant elderly and disabled had access to the hospital and/or in-place ventilators. Answers, please, Governor and Doctor!

Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.

Arlene Violet

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