The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the face of education in America; however, we must minimize the profoundly adverse social, developmental, and health costs to our children. Research shows by implementing new protocols, schools can be re-opened safely and effectively.
Wearing a face mask to reduce spread of Covid-19 and touting condom use to diminish transmission of HIV and other STDs are essentially the same thing. Masking up should not be a question of politics, gender, or education. It is no more “negative” emotionally to cover our face and protect our neighbor than it is to wrap our naughty bits with latex and protect our sexual partner.
As a pediatrician, I am even more concerned about those students who are homeless, food insecure, or being exposed to violence more regularly at home as a result of school closure. School is the one place where children can feel safe, fed, and supported. Children with disabilities—who receive speech, language, and other therapies—have been unable to continue their specialized services at school, which are essential to foster learning and development.
We already know it is the responsibility of every one of us in Kitsap County to slow the spread of Covid-19. In this second column on the subject, I want to focus on the next steps for our community. The most effective nonpharmacological intervention within our reach is to close schools proactively for a lengthy time period. And in the next 800 words, I hope to convince our educators and the public.
To be honest, our lives will not be saved by the government. And lives will not be saved by elected officials or large institutions. Lives will not be saved by a miracle vaccine this year either. Lives will be saved by everyday decisions made by responsible citizens in Washington State and the rest of the nation.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we’ve got to keep attention on that.” Yes. Let’s keep our attention on the members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and especially the nurses who are fighting for our very lives.
Piper was the first and the only patient in nearly 20 years of practice for whom I have signed the birth certificate and the death certificate. 100 years ago, country doctors did that sort of thing frequently, but today, it is rare. It remains one of the hardest things I have ever done as a physician.
Battling organized racism has never been about a single person or one moment in time—it is about exploring deeply ingrained beliefs each of us hold about those individuals who we see as different from ourselves. Outcome disparities due to race are not limited to the healthcare arena; they affect our education system, justice system, law enforcement, social media and everyday life.
In this case, CPS called upon child abuse pediatrician Dr. Elizabeth Woods, a new director at the Child Abuse Intervention program at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma. Although she told me on the phone she had “14 years of child abuse experience,” in actual fact, Dr. Woods resume tells a different story. She completed only a residency in general pediatrics in 2010 and has not completed a child abuse fellowship.
It seems perverse to deliver healthcare services at a place called the Minute Clinic. The kind of physician-patient relationship that can be cultivated in a minute is not one to write home about. While CVS and Walgreens see geriatric primary care as yet another untapped gold mine, for me, the relationship memorialized in Norman Rockwell’s “Physician” resonates as much today as it did 90 years ago. Seamless ecosystems are no match for a “willingness to place professional expertise at the feet of childhood magic.”