The pandemic highlighted the importance of health care, but what happens when there are not enough beds or ventilators?
“Anyone standing over an ICU unit with choices to make, with difficult choices to make can easily look at me or someone like me and make assumptions about our quality of life, about our ability to survive,” Cathy Ludlum said.
Ludlum has a degenerative genetic disease that has caused her to spend most of her life in a wheelchair.
“You can’t go on appearances and I’m sorry to say bias,” she said.
Ludlum said without any guidance from the Department of Public Health, and in some instances the hospitals, she’s concerned that she could be denied care.
“And then I and people like me, I was going to say could be adversely affected, but let’s be blunt we could be dead,” Ludlum said.
Ludlum, a member of the CT Cross Disability Lifespan Alliance, is just one of more than 30 organizations putting pressure on the Department of Public Health to update its statewide guidance to hospitals should care rationing become necessary.
"What we’re seeing here with the health care rationing is just an extension of the pre-existing healt hcare inequity that exists in Connecticut,” Catherine John said.
John of Black and Brown United In Action is another one of the organizations calling for the state to issue guidance.
“Elderly, disabled, Black, brown, Indigenous and Asian. These are the folks most likely not to receive the standard of care that they deserve,” John said.
John said her community practices self-care and tries to avoid going to the doctor.
“We’re at a point right now where we want to claim racism as a public health crisis in my regard it has always been one,” John said.
More than 20 states issued new or revised guidance in 2020 in response to COVID-19.
Last week DPH Commissioner Deidre Gifford said they’ve been working with the hospitals and will be revising the guidance in the future.
“We’ve been looking at what the hospitals have put out and providing some technical assistance to the hospitals around that, but they’re the ones that actually promulgate the guidelines,” Gifford said.
The Connecticut Hospital Association said in a statement that they are working with the Department of Public Health.
“It is highly unlikely that crisis standards will be utilized in Connecticut during the COVID-19 public health emergency,” CHA states.