At a time when we need doctors most and need them to be in their top shape to fight the pandemic at the frontlines, they are being forced to work long hours for months on end without break. What's more, is that healthcare workers are being laid off during this time!
Hospitals should be hiring more healthcare workers to help fight the pandemic, but instead, they are giving them the boot. It's like a military in the middle of war firing its soldiers and leaving the ones on the frontlines to stress out. This not only puts further stress on the workers, but it also hurts their morale.
It's true that hospitals lost money during the pandemic due to the excess patient load, the freeze in elective surgeries that some hospitals implemented, and the reduced number of people going to hospitals for fear of getting COVID-19. But if that's the case you would think that company executives would reduce their extravagant bonuses during this time, however that was not the case. For example, the CEO for one of the largest healthcare systems in Michigan, Beaumont Health, which temporarily laid off 2,500 healthcare workers and permanently laid off another 450, took a $2.6 million bonus at the height of the pandemic. Other hospital execs are getting high six and seven-figure salaries during this time. Why don't these executives put a hold on these extravagant bonuses instead of sacrificing healthcare workers?
I think it's unconscionable for company leaders to continue to take these skewed high salaries while sacrificing much lower paid healthcare workers during this difficult time. Unfortunately with the corporate culture in the U.S. which is fraught with greed and devaluation of human life, everything is about numbers, it's not likely that we will see any change from within these corporations.
During the height of the pandemic, many doctors and nurses around the country had their salaries reduced or got furloughed, temporarily laid off, while other places were short-staffed. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio even said that there needs to be a national effort to enlist doctors and healthcare workers to the places they are most needed. But that would require government intervention, as companies will not be able to do it on their own.
The issue is complicated. Some company executives did put a hold on bonuses and cut pay, but that doesn't seem to be the norm. We heard many complaints about the lack of personal protective equipment, or PPE, during the first surge of COVID-19 cases. At that time some healthcare workers were reprimanded or fired for speaking out. We are now in the third surge of COVID-19 and the problem still exists!
Just before Thanksgiving doctors and nurse practitioners in Washington state went on strike complaining of working long hours and lack of adequate PPE. We are now facing the highest number of daily deaths around the country while still not at the peak of the current surge. Healthcare workers are already reeling from the excessive stress they are being put through, and are feeling alone in this, especially as people have become seemingly numb to the news about the pandemic -- while they are having to fight it constantly on the frontlines.
If we are to win this fight we need to all come together and make sacrifices. Executives and company leaders need to stop taking bonuses, and drastically reduce their salaries to give a chance to healthcare workers, the soldiers in this fight, to be able to take a breather and not be put under immense stress. The government needs to be involved and take the necessary measures to make this happen. Unprecedented circumstances call for extraordinary measures. We are already on the brink in some places of choosing who gets to live and who gets to die due to overwhelmed hospital ICUs.