Imagine being in a fight for your life. Maybe you fell off your bike, or went through some other type of head trauma, and now you wait at Harborview to hear the prognosis on whether you will ever be able to move your immobilized body. Every day, tens of real-life patients enter Harborview in a state like this. If you're reading this, you probably have a loved one who is among the hundreds of patients that sit in Harborview, awaiting word from doctors on whether life might ever be normal again.
If you are sitting incapacitated in a bed at Harborview, you would probably consider yourself lucky as you regained consciousness. You survived your trauma, and now you're here, surrounded by a medical team that has among its ranks the best trauma specialists from all of Washington state. As that initial wave of gratitude rolls over you, you look around the room, puzzling at the unfamiliar array of medical devices now surrounding you. That's when you might start to look for a familiar face--a beloved spouse or other family member to help you frame what has happened and imagine what's coming next.
But if this scene is playing out in late 2021, you will find no familiar face, now or at any point during the duration of your Harborview stay. 😭
Two weeks ago, on September 13, my grandfather found himself in this scenario. For the past
10 11 12 days, no family member has been allowed to visit him due to the current Harborview covid restrictions.
Can you imagine being incapacitated in a bed, for weeks on end, without contact with family?
For trauma patients that are partially paralyzed, you can't use your phone to pass the time. For patients like my grandfather with little vision, you can't watch TV. Thanks to Harborview's visitor policy, you are isolated from your family. All that you have to do, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, is sit in bed and think.
👉 That's why I started this Change.org petition to ask that Harborview to reconsider its cruel visitor policy: https://www.change.org/p/lisa-brandenburg-open-harborview-to-vaccinated-visitors/dashboard
If I think about it too long, I start to get overwhelmed by what a state of isolation and loneliness the patients of Harborview are being asked to live through. When I can't bear to imagine life from my grandfather's shoes anymore, the next place my mind always goes: if the decision-makers at Harborview had a family member like mine in Harborview, would they be OK leaving them to languish in isolation for days or weeks on end?
Of course not, because they'd use their executive privilege to break their own rules on behalf of compassion. And I wouldn't blame them for breaking their rules. If a visitor like them can provide proof of their vaccination, the odds that they are going to spread covid through the hospital are bordering on zero. Among the brief press release that Harborview submitted when they entered this state of lockdown, nowhere were any figures cited to illustrate how this policy was going to bring about sufficient benefit to outweigh the suffering of hundreds of patients who are left in isolation with their own thoughts.
If you too can imagine what it would be like to be stuck on an island by yourself for weeks, please sign the change.org petition.