It was nothing I should be concerned with, honestly. Oh, sure, I know the story, just like everyone else. But worried?
But when I called the Edmonton Sun newsroom to chat about my column topic — a ritual before opening my laptop to scribble — night news editor Barry Hanson, a crackerjack journalist, threw out a query I could no longer ignore
“I would be interested in a piece on how people with disabilities could be affected by the coronavirus,” Barry suggested.
His timing could have not been more precise: Tim and Sid of Sportsnet were on the tube, dispatching breaking news of the coronavirus including the Columbus Blue Jackets announcement that home games will be played without fans in the stands.
OK, Cam. This is getting serious.
As a person living with a disability — cerebral palsy — Barry forced me to address the issue.
Hand washing is a huge factor. But I must be honest — or, perhaps more to the point, guilty as charged. I do not wash my hands as often as I should.
Laziness on my behalf? Absolutely. I have to be better because, truthfully, I can do that myself.
But, I have to wonder if folks with disabilities who cannot independently wash themselves. In an already stretched health-care assistant industry, the concern has to be if HCA’s can — and will — share a few more minutes with people to ensure everyone’s hands are properly washed.
People with disabilities may have stamina and immune issues. That can increase the risk of catching the virus.
Moreover, people with disabilities used shared services, including transportation, recreational and fitness programs, and educational programs.
And, consider the most intimate shared service: personal care.
It might be in an institutional setting, such as a hospital or extended care centre — or in the community in a group home or a private residence.
Health care aides work with many different clients in a shift. While they are, indeed, very well-intentioned, germs make their own path and invade at will, significantly raising risks.
Perhaps, though, the most concerning issue I have about the coronavirus is self-isolation.
People with disabilities rely on others for the most fundamental tasks.
Self-isolation and quarantine situations raise plentiful questions, perhaps the most posed query is this: how will this work, and who is willing to work with people with the coronavirus?
And, could that care be somewhat compromised if care workers are reluctant to work?
We must be prepared and informed to respond to such questions, and others.
Hopefully, if we take proper precautions we won’t have to.
I’m going to get this into Barry right now. Then, I’ll wash my hands. With soap.
- 50,115 hits