Imagine having trillions of dollars pumped into your industry, not over decades, but in a question of 18 months. Imagine the depth of infrastructure that could be developed with a capital injection of this nature, the research funding, and the long-term benefits reaped by a burgeoning patient population. Not to mention the increased attraction to many for entering the field of medicine.
Instead, as we rapidly approach the three year mark of the Covid pandemic, healthcare finds itself in many ways, far the worse for wear, not having benefited financially in any way from the pandemic. Staffing issues persist, doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals having abandoned their posts for greener and, let’s be honest, safer, working environments.
Nothing kills job satisfaction faster than the continued thought of catching a potentially fatal disease each time you go to work. Add to that, frustrated, aggressive and often abusive patients and you can see why many professionals opted for a career change.
Do We Now Face the Pandemic of Poverty?
For all the good our lockdowns did, and although debate still rages, it is safe to assume that the general consensus now is that they were a terrible, costly mistake, a collective lapse in judgement that the global economy is still staggering to recover from and never may. In lieu of pumping the American stimulus package into the expansion and development of healthcare for the afflicted, the U.S. opted to shut down its economy and pay the public trillions through its now infamous “stimulus” packages.
America was not alone and countries across the globe followed suit. Healthcare, our primary prerogative in times of pandemic, stood by and watched helplessly as trillions upon trillions of dollars flowed, not to healthcare, but into the hands of an imprisoned public.
The Pandemic Has Come, But the Ripple Effect of “Long-Covid” Remains
The pandemic has come, left its mark and although its impact is still felt as new variants sweep through populations, our fear has passed. We now view the disease as would influenza. It evokes a similar nonchalant response in the public, one of “just another disease we have to cope with” and life moves on. We have moved on. Healthcare hasn’t. Many areas are still beset by Covid outbreaks and now a gloomy shadow of another kind looms on the horizon. The long term impacts of Covid, so called “long Covid”, affecting millions and placing further burden on an already creaking healthcare infrastructure.
The Real Legacy of Covid
Perhaps the real legacy of Covid will not be that of the first truly global pandemic in living memory. Perhaps its true place in history will be as the trumpet call that heralded the beginning of the end of healthcare in modern American society. An opportunity missed to reinvigorate an industry with chronic shortcomings, to prepare it to meet the challenges of a new century. An industry desperately starved of investment and facing massive challenges in delivering care to those most in need.
Now, as the WHO braces itself for a possible new global threat from the Monkeypox virus, cases having doubled in the last two weeks, American healthcare finds itself poorly placed to respond. They are still struggling to come to terms with the aftermath of dealing with Covid, their resources, both human and mechanical, drained and supply chain issues still prevail.
In short, a perfect storm awaits. One we have engineered and enabled with poor choices and little foresight. Mark my words, should we be headed for another pandemic on the back of Covid, few will pay heed to the plight of their one true ally. Healthcare.