By Dempsey Gibson | OW Contributor
In this new land of “Covid Everchanging” is there an any more important combatant than the frontline healthcare worker? Doctors we automatically think of as well compensated, but what of the more behind-the-field-of-vision workers who are just as essential?
The cost of living has gone up…WAY UP in recent months. Gas, rent, food, almost everything that took a nibble out of the wallet six months ago today TAKES A BITE! Angelenos suffer through like our community always does: Get by until we can get over.
There’s a great line from the 1970’s classic comedy “Good Times.” Florida Evans looks at her son Michael and says; “Child don’t forget, this family got through the meat shortage without even knowing there was one!” That’s where the country is now… except this time there is something a little extra.
Healthcare has always, until President Barack Obama, benefited people the most in this country who needed it the least. Wealthy, upper middle class have had the means to pay premiums and copays, to be seen by professionals wearing white lab coats who bank six figure a year paychecks for preventative maintenance physicals once a year with no strain, stress or worry.
How many remember when a bottle of Robitussin was the family’s best friend and an upgrade in medical science was the day it came out in “cherry” flavor?! When Grandma used to say after church “I need to go home and get some vinegar and water to cut the blood pressure”? When a cousin would twist his ankle and the first thing his momma said was “Put some ice on it”?
Hospitals and doctors offices were reserved for “if we don’t go, we will die” moments not “preventative maintenance.” And it was not because we didn’t want to go, not because we didn’t know to go… it was because we couldn’t afford to go.
With One Pen…
On March 23, 2010, Obama signed into law The Affordable Health Care Act and just like that, 40 million people had access to more than ice, vinegar and a once every four hours cherry-flavored miracle in a bottle.
High blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, sleep apnea, the list goes on and on for every pre-existing condition that kept the less fortunate from attaining insurance at the whim of a list made by the insurance company that considered them too “high risk” was struck down. The choice of either not being insured or worse being told because of pre-existing conditions (for some women that actually included becoming pregnant) the rate to insure would be thousands of out of pocket dollars a month was now just a nightmare we were lucky enough to wake up from.
“Class status,” for lack of a better term, is the lifeblood of many in this most un-united of United States. The more they have, the more they want. The less some have, the less those with everything want them to have…even when it comes to healthcare.
COVID in all its various numbers and strains and protocols and measures and resistance and support and lies and truths has one thing that we all agree: If not for the healthcare workers we would all be sick or dead.
Healthcare workers in every capacity from doctors, nurses and researchers to kitchen and maintenance staff have become and are indispensable. They have all put themselves on the frontlines trying to cure, treat and care for the sick and dying and they did it knowing there was a good chance (before the vaccine) that they could be the next body laying in that bed instead of the one changing those beds sheets.
So what does one do to say thank you to those so selfless? How does one really show admiration for a true hero? There are no fan boards for them like there are for the Hulk. There are no t-shirts and posters for them like there are for Batman. There are no Super Healthcare Conventions where one can spend $300 and stand in line to get a picture taken with his or her favorite nurse, doctor or In Home Provider. So what do we do?
Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price answered that question. He proposed a pay increase for healthcare workers to $25 an hour. Price is trying to value the stress, the commitment and the dignity of those who put their lives on the line every time they put on their uniform to go to work.
“For the last two years, our community has relied heavily on the medical community to help navigate us through the pandemic—putting their lives on the line and their families at risk. As a representative of a District that was hit hard by the pandemic, their sacrifice inspired me to be a leader in the fight,” said Price.
“Working long, grueling hours and absorbing insurmountable stress, the burnout being felt from the pressures of COVID-19 has been prevalent, causing an alarming number of healthcare workers to leave the profession altogether,” he added. “The approval to raise their wages demonstrates to the countless workers that they are valued, seen, heard and above all, their lives matter.”
Almost as soon as Mayor Eric Garcetti signed this measure into law last week the resistance to it began.
There is now a petition circulating that claims the pay hike to healthcare professionals is excessive and detrimental. If the petition warrants enough confirmed signatures the measure will be ultimately put up to a vote in November and decided by “We The People.”
This writer believes that We The People, left up to our own devices, do what’s right. We The People extend a hand to help us all get on until we get over. And, while still having a fondness for the memory, We the People have lost the taste for cherry flavor.