Letter to the editor: Health care providers should balance science with compassion


When my father was dying, I had a hospital oncologist say he was too busy to talk with me.

My brother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. What support has been given to his wife?

I have a gravely ill friend who has long-term COVID and now leukemia. She had been told she needs basic equipment. She is exhausted. She lives alone. Rather than reassuring her, they question what she says and have left her to cope by herself.

Science is not static. With a relatively new illness like COVID, science is changing. Care providers are learning as they go. But, new or old, the diagnosis is given to a person who lives in a family. The science of care is, in some ways, the smallest part of the solution. Health care is about living, breathing human beings before it is about the science of an illness.

Sen. Susan Collins sits on the committee that is hearing a bill (S. 3726) that includes money to provide education on the changing science of COVID and the burgeoning field of its long-term side effects. Perhaps she could add funding for care providers to be educated in how to be humanitarian caregivers and get it pushed through.

Health care providers are trained as scientists first. They should be trained as humanitarians first: perhaps an entire semester just on how to listen and follow through. Yes, providers are busy. I don’t care. It is my life and the lives of my family that are on the line.

Joe Trafford
Portland


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