82. Don’t worry about the cones

Sunday August 23 2020

“I drove past a nursing home and saw they had traffic cones in the parking lot so nobody could get in,” this guy said. “And I thought to myself, well, they’re just protecting their investment.”

What’s that? Investment?

Where do these people come from? Although having just met him minutes before, I already know he’s not interested in any humanitarian awards. A self-proclaimed patriot, his idea of the greater good is keeping things good so he can be great.

“I don’t think we’re going to run out of old people,” was my reply. Then I want him to know, “I’ve been to a lot of assisted living places and the residents are respected and well-cared for.” Micron and I have spent many hours as a pet therapy team and saw this to be true. We also came across the occasional not-so-good, but fortunately those were in the minority.

I don’t know why I let this bug me. Maybe it was how he only saw a business and not the living souls inside the brick and mortar. People who wanted to spend their time in grace and dignity and to get that heady dopamine rush when they win a round of BINGO.

Anyway, this was weeks ago and I haven’t had to endure another cynical monologue from this guy since. I had actually forgotten about his comment until this week when listening to the DeWine report on my way home from work.

Lieutenant Governor Husted was fielding a question about nursing homes and he mentioned that occupancy was down by 10%.

What now? I turned the radio up to make sure I understood. It’s not like being wrong about something bothers me that much. Happens all the time. But I didn’t want bluster man to be right with his investment theory.

Then I scored some validation points when Husted followed up his comment by saying the 10% drop was due to the delay of elective surgeries. Folk who would normally need a short-term rehabilitation stay at a facility, say due to knee or hip surgery, were not getting their elective procedures scheduled these past few weeks.

Alternatively, there are facilities expanding their programs to include a segregated area for the specialized care of coronavirus patients only. Protocol is in place, they say, to avoid cross-contamination to the other areas of the care facility.

No, no, I’m your therapist. You can tell me anything.

This is controversial, as these things go. But the concept is not that different from when how polio patients were segregated in the fifties.  We know COVID-19 presents differently than any other virus, so opportunities to develop a specialized care system could help bring new findings on how decrease the mortality rate. And at minimum, we can learn more about high-quality palliative care.

Our pet therapy visits stopped months ago and the dogs and I have been furloughed from our volunteer work. I can tell that Micron is missing these interactions because of how he runs to the car to sit next to it, waiting for me to open the door and let’s go already. I’ll sometimes take him for a drive around town, because I love my dog and want him to be happy. This is not how I wanted to retire him from pet therapy.


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