Uncommon Ground

Thanks Doc

Healthcare professionals are fighting for our community

By Mike Jopek

The doctor placed a hand on my upper arm while the other held a stethoscope on my back. Breathe in, breathe out. I underwent my annual checkup as my primary doctor performed routine tests. I felt nervous, self-conscious at the thoughtfulness of the time I was afforded during a pandemic.

People in the valley appreciate the professionals who endure extremely difficult times while providing healthcare during a pandemic. This latest spike of COVID-19 has overrun our hospitals and put providers in danger.

Even from the safety of the farm it feels relentless. I can’t imagine the stress healthcare workers and their families are under these days. It’s been unyielding and this nonsense started over 18 months ago. 

Our hospitals are so full of coronavirus patients that there’s scant room for routine surgeries or emergencies. So thinly stretched are the resources at the local hospitals that the Montana National Guard was called to help.

This respiratory contagion proved so fatal that it killed nearly 200 humans statewide in September. Last month over 1,000 Montanans were hospitalized and in September nearly one out of every 50 locals statewide caught the potentially killer disease that rapidly spreads via air and close contact with other humans. 

The rate of change over the past six weeks intensified as the spike of sickness drove Montana to top the national list in per capita cases, deaths and infection. It’s a heartbreaking disaster that too many ignore, as if somehow our obligation to society and fellow human is nonexistent.

The local hospitals and nurses reached a pay deal. It’s a good thing. Those who provide life-saving care helping people valley wide do a great job during extremely difficult times and still perform with much kindness and compassion. 

If locals really wanted to thank the nurses, doctors and emergency personnel throughout the valley, a simple gesture would be to vote and stop electing politicians who are against each and every one of the pandemic mitigation strategies like vaccinations, short-term masking and testing. There’s not freedom without life.

In towns like Whitefish that simple vote of gratefulness translates to re-electing City Councilors Andy Feury and Ben Davis. Both councilors promoted safety and community throughout the pandemic. Mail ballots for Whitefish citizens arrive soon.

Devastating to its people, Montana recently made a law to preempt the emergency rules of self-governing cities who sought to look out for citizens and local safety during this health crisis.

At times it must feel to nurses, doctors and healthcare people that they’re on their own. Weekly waves of sickness fill emergency rooms and a constant flow of COVID-infected patients heading to clinics and hospitals, seeking lifesaving care from a communicable disease, is devastating. 

Healthcare professionals mostly work outside the view of the public, until you need their help. I’m proud of their service and dedication to people. With compassion and care the clinics and hospitals across the valley offer as great a care as possible given how hospital beds are in short supply throughout areas of America.

As of last week, COVID-19 had killed one out of every 545 Montanans, hospitalized one out of every 144 Montanans and reportedly infected one out of every seven Montanans over 18 months. By now, hospitals statewide have provided coronavirus beds to nearly 8,000 people. 

Over 2,000 of our friends and neighbors throughout communities statewide died from the coronavirus during this pandemic. This most recent spike is alarmingly sad for Montanans as it is accelerating wildly. Soon, hopefully falling precipitately.

Healthcare professionals are fighting for our community. It’s not much to ask for us to exhibit more public gratitude and respect toward the kindness and compassion of nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals who live amongst us and treat us when we’re sick. Thank you. You are Montana heroes.

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