LONSBERRY: Ban On Visitors Is Immoral And Inhumane


Andrew Cuomo’s ban on hospital and nursing home visits is a savagely cruel crime against the basic humanity of New Yorkers.

               And its pointlessness is proven by his recently announced “pilot project” which would allow visits in 16 of the state’s 213 hospitals.

               People have suffered and died alone, from COVID and any number of other causes, because of a capricious, unnecessary and dehumanizing order from a governor so drunk on his own arrogance that he can’t perceive the suffering and heartbreak of others.

               Children needing surgery and elders with dementia have found themselves stripped of family connection and companionship by executive order. People awaiting biopsy results have had to sit alone, their spouses outside in the car, as they have received the worst news of their lives.

               State Senator Pam Helming is, tragically, an illustration of the horror this Cuomo policy has forced on too many families. An elderly male loved one was injured in a fall, and had a brain bleed. Taken to the hospital, no family members were allowed to be with him after the ambulance got to the emergency room door. He was alone during every bit of his hospital care, and then was transferred to a nursing home to complete his recuperation.

               As has happened to probably thousands of nursing home patients under the Cuomo Health Department, the elderly gentleman caught COVID in the nursing home, suffered through its effects, and died.

               All without a single visit. All in the company of strangers, in a succession of disorienting and disruptive medical environments.

               Relatives weren’t even allowed to look through the outside window of his room.

               And they and he suffered through his great adversity separated in a cruel and hateful fashion.

               Because of Andrew Cuomo.

               And that’s what happened to the loved one of a state senator.

               What do you think happens to nobodies like you and me?

               How has this been allowed to happen? How can a profession seemingly dedicated to caring not be up in arms in revolt against such an uncaring and positively hurtful policy?

               Why have we forced people to suffer alone, and why have we consigned the luckiest families to standing in the parking lot holding up signs in the hope that loved ones inside can see?

               We have done it because of the lustful megalomania of Andrew Cuomo. He has the power to crush people’s lives, and he is choosing to use it. The only surprise is that this policy has not more often met with resistance by force.

               The argument is that this will slow the spread of the virus.

               What a lie.

               At the same time Andrew Cuomo forbade relatives from visiting hospitals and nursing homes, COVID-infected staffers were required to keep working. Janitors and cooks were allowed in and out of these institutions every day, but loving spouses, parents and children were not. Staffers and contractors moved in and out of these places around the clock, but loved ones were barred.

               That’s not science, that’s tyranny.

               Because if screening and masking works for medical workers, it also works for family members.

               Except Andrew Cuomo wouldn’t let it.

               And even his current pilot project is a charade. Family members will be allowed into a tiny fraction of the state’s hospitals if they pass a temperature check, wear a mask and go only to their loved one’s room. That’s not complex. It’s not new. It’s a routine that could have been followed from the very beginning.

               But people were forbidden.

               As fretful spouses wanting to be at the bedside of their sweethearts offered to quarantine and to take COVID tests and meet any other standard the medical staff set, they were rebuffed. They were disrespected. Their natural, powerful, sacred emotional and familial connection was dismissed by an autocrat and his minions.

               And people died alone.

               Loved ones didn’t get to say good bye.

               Sacred prayers and rituals were not allowed.

               The basic humanity of patients and families were subordinated to a governor and a system too lazy, uncaring or stupid to accommodate them.

               And that is wrong. It is immoral. It is inhuman. It ought to be a crime.

               The last time in American history families were torn apart without regard to their natural connections was at the slave auction, now we can add the hospital door and the nursing home.

               It is a stain on the medical community that it was a silent agent of such an immoral policy. “I was just following orders” is not a convincing defense in any generation.

               What has been done to real people in real situations by this policy is unconscionable.

               And this “pilot project” of half measures mocks those whose loved ones have died alone, and those at some 200 hospitals and many more nursing homes who still are immorally denied contact with their own flesh and blood.

               This Cuomo crime is a shame, and it must end. Immediately.