When choosing a career, there are certain aspects of that position we all must accept as simply “part of the gig.” For example, years ago when I was a high school teacher in Omaha, NE, I attended the College World Series. I’d had a couple beers and the friends I was with asked if I wanted another. Sure, we were having fun and another beverage sounded great, but as I looked around the crowd, I realized the very high likelihood that some of my students were here—at the biggest summer event held in the city of Omaha—and I said no. It was not okay, in my mind, for me to have too much to drink at that game. Even though I wasn’t driving. Even though I was of legal age. A beer or two is fine, but anything after that would cause me to slur my words and sway a bit in my step and I didn’t want any of my students to see me like that.
Because that’s just part of being a teacher—the expectation that we behave in a safe and socially responsible manner, and set a good example.
And those rules apply to other career choices as well—especially those in the medical field. Especially this year.
Every single doctor, nurse, lab tech, physician’s assistant, med student, and all others who’ve pledged to care for and help heal the sick, the wounded, the infirm, has the ultimate responsibility to set the right example. To do the right thing. And to spread accurate information.
We need the entire medical community—like every single member—to encourage mask-wearing. And social distancing. And hand-washing. We need them to avoid large indoor gatherings—even on holidays—and tell everyone they know to do the same.
Anyone who has taken an oath to “first, do no harm” must uphold that oath. Ignoring proper safety protocols during a pandemic isn’t upholding that oath, but rather, puts others directly in harm’s way.
This year, more than ever, we are looking to our medical professionals for guidance. For leadership. For direction. For help. And they’ve delivered, week after week. Month after month, never giving up, even as they face insurmountable odds. And it’s that perseverance and grit that we are so grateful for, every single day, as COVID-19 ravages the world.
However, as in any profession, there are few bad apples who have sullied the reputation of the medical community with their reckless, dishonest behavior.
We know, being nearly 10 months into this nightmare, that large gatherings like graduation parties and weddings can quickly turn into super-spreader events, as it has happened in Maine, Long Island, and even the good old White House over the past few months. And, most recently, news broke of a wedding near rural Ritzville, Washington, where 300 people gathered, defying state restrictions, and created what is now yet another “super-spreader.” The Washington Post reports that more than a dozen COVID cases and two outbreaks have been traced back to the ceremony — and that the fallout would probably get worse.
But to make matters worse, among those in attendance were employees at local nursing homes. Employees who contracted COVID at the wedding and took it to work with them. Now six nursing home residents are dead. The cause? COVID-19.
This is what experts means when they say “protect the vulnerable.” It doesn’t just mean “Don’t go visit Grandma if you have COVID.” That’s obvious and we are pretty sure most people know that.
It also means “don’t stupidly host or attend large gatherings, like weddings.” It also means “wear a damn mask.” It also means “educate yourself about easy it is—during a pandemic—to pick up and pass this virus along, even if you don’t have symptoms.”
Not only should literally no one be having a wedding with 300 people in attendance, but also, anyone who works with patients or the elderly or anyone particularly vulnerable to COVID should have more sense than the selfish asswipes still hosting a fucking gala in 2020, and simply not attend.
But because these nursing home employees did attend this super-spreader event, six people who were not even at the wedding have died. And, knowing COVID restrictions, there’s a good chance they died alone.
“Our most vulnerable community members — elderly, immunocompromised, and those with chronic conditions — are especially at risk of complications due to a COVID-19 infection and we must continue to take measures to protect them from this disease,” the local health department said in a news release after contact tracers found out the severity of the impact.
You’d think that those who made their living caring for the elderly and immunocompromised, of all people, would be extra careful. You’d think.
Another wretched excuse for a human being—now dubbed the infamous “TikTok nurse”—shows, again, that in every profession there are always a few who simply shouldn’t be in that field. Ashley Grames, an oncology nurse from Oregon, went viral recently for stupidly bragging on TikTok (clad in hospital scrubs, no less) that she still travels, lets her kids have play dates, and doesn’t wear a mask. This vile troll of a person—a nurse— is now unemployed (probably permanently, at least from medicine anyway) and is famous all over the world for her selfish assholery.
Well done, Ashley! Best self-sabotage we’ve seen in a while. Slow clap.
ABC News reports that Salem Health, her previous employer, immediately fired her ignorant ass and put out the following statement: “Salem Health believes we all need to do our part to protect the vulnerable and stop the rapid spread of COVID-19. This includes requiring staff, patients and visitors to follow guidance from the CDC and others about mask wearing and social distancing.”
Because, again, it’s sort of common sense to assume that of all people, doctors and nurses and anyone else working in hospitals and medical buildings where they interact with patients, would be the ones to follow safety protocols the best. Not laugh in the face of such guidelines and brag about it on TikTok.
And who can forget Dr. Quack Steven LaTulippe (also from Oregon—WTF is going on up there?!) who spoke at an anti-mask rally about how COVID-19, which has killed 271,000 Americans, was “a common cold.”
But don’t worry, folks! He’ll still treat you if you show symptoms of this “corona mania” virus. As ABC News reports, LaTulippe sees COVID-19 patients “at the end of the day after all of his other patients leave and treats them in a back room that is disinfected before and after they leave.”
I mean, if forcing possible COVID patients to wait all day to be seen in a back room doesn’t say “sound medical practice”, I don’t know what does.
After all, he did say, “I’m very interested in sound medical practice, and I’m interested in good science,” in a phone interview, which is quite possibly the best and most hilarious part of this story.
All joking aside, how many lives have been endangered by the idiocy of these nursing home employees and doctors and nurses like Ashley Grames and Steven LaTulippe? Not only do they risk the safety of those around them by refusing to take necessary precautions like wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding group gatherings, but they also encourage others to do the same. Others who will listen to them and look to them for leadership, trusting in their credentials and medical badge and scrubs. Believing that those with the stethoscope around their necks and license to practice hanging on their walls are trustworthy.
That is perhaps the most dangerous part of such reckless behavior. We need to know we can look to our medical community for proper leadership. (Lord knows we can’t look to the president and half the country’s politicians for it.)
Frankly, their behavior is a disgusting act of disrespect toward the dedicated medical staff who have given of themselves tirelessly since March. Who have worked 24-hour shifts, missed seeing their own family, put themselves on the frontlines to save and protect others. Who have truly honored the oath to “do no harm.” Who have tried to educate us about the value and importance of doing our part so that, as a society, we can increase our chances at beating this thing.
Doctors like LaTulippe, nurses like Grames, and employees like those who attended that wedding are slapping the exhausted, dedicated frontline medical workers across their tear-streaked faces as they beg us to pay attention and do our part.
That’s a special brand of selfishness. It’s a special brand of cruel. And it has no place in the medical profession—a profession we are relying on and must show our appreciation for now, more than ever.
Just like I felt the responsibility as a teacher to act with a certain decorum in public, you, medical workers, have a responsibility too. If it’s too hard for you to follow the rules so you don’t kill people, please find a different profession. (Preferably one that involves zero other humans.)
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