Michelle Martin, Seattle, NPR discussed on All Things Considered


From NPR news I'm Michelle Martin the outbreak of coronavirus in Washington state is revealing just how vulnerable the elderly are in the growing pandemic nowhere is that more clear than at life care center a long term care and nursing facility east of Seattle at least twenty five residents have died and many others are in the hospital will stone of member station KNKX reports that some of the families and residents still there remain in limbo two years ago after suffering a minor stroke Julie you had no interest in moving into a long term care facility the now ninety three year old lived alone rode the bus and shun the use of a Walker but the use daughter sue Wilson says it did not take long for life care center to become home she keeps telling me that they would be nice to me they are correct I can Stacey Wilson lives ten minutes down the road several times a week she bring her mother over to their bustling home chickens and dogs roaming in the yard to see her great grandchildren or on the weekends for church every Sunday she will remember still I'm waiting she did not like the teacher waiting it's just like life does have such a joy for meaning trucker Wilson holds or smart phone and scrolls through photos of her mother out and about with their family some taken just a few months ago she went out to the Chinese restaurant we were eating together get up with the whole family Wilson can't make sense of how these happy routines could change so fast last month she and other families discovered the corona virus had begun to sweep through their suburb on the banks of Lake Washington exchanges she finds out she's positive she no longer want to talk on the phone assisting local ports positive for corona virus like many who lived and worked at life care Wilson worries her mother's health is is deteriorating she believes the nurses are doing the best they can but her mother is isolated stuck in a room unable to see her family and only able to understand a bit of English and she's watched others being wheeled away on stretchers unlikely to return I think she's in shock and also find out she's going to die like because she's mobile should watch out for I think should know because she's clear Wilson finds herself in a heart rending predicament as her mother lingers at the facility until she's no longer contagious outside life care center neighbors rap blue ribbons around pine trees and flowers frame the welcome sign Bridget park hills seventy six year old mother was living there during rehab after knee replacement she says her mother went to the hospital briefly and tested positive for the virus but was then brought back to life care the hospitals don't have any beds for people that don't have acute respiratory distress park hill and her sister Carmen gray wait outside her mother's window in the cold to check on her we're hoping that mom is strong and that she's can I come out on the other side of this okay she worries staff are over stretched and her mother isn't able to move around our base properly life care does not prohibit anyone from leaving but families can't necessarily bring their loved ones home and run the risk of exposing others to the virus Laura right Meyer says her family decided to pull her ninety three year old mother out of life care as the situation grew more dire we got like it was a death sentence from my mom that her chances of getting it were obviously great now her mother is living with her and right Meyer who's a nurse practitioner says she's doing better I think we made the right decision for ourselves and for our mom right my says it doesn't appear her mother contracted the virus back at su Wilson's home she's writing a card to her mother she hasn't been in the same room with her for weeks because we worry about my mother and I just felt like everybody have to die should be a happy long tonight I just wanna hold her hand she's not frightened back in that long it lasts Wilson says she doesn't blame anyone she just wants to be with her mother even if it's just to say good bye for NPR news I'm will stone in Seattle I was thinking about the trip our team took back in twenty eighteen to report on Porter Rico's uneven recovery from hurricane Maria of course you're going to report on the big issues but on a trip like that for some reason it's those unexpected little details that tend to stick with you and one of those details was our visit to our hair salon where the owner told us that more women with naturally curly hair we're choosing to keep it that way even after electricity became more reliable and they could go back to straightening it if they wanted to she told us that a lot of her clients realize that it look better it was easier to manage and was healthier for their hair so she didn't even bother to talk about the racist politics at that forgive me root of the whole idea that straight hair is professional and desirable and curly hair somehow isn't she just what about giving her clients awesome curly hair cuts and stocking products to keep them looking sharp can I just tell you I thought about that again this week because all crises with a personal or political are revealing the corona virus pandemic we are now experiencing is no different for sure it's laying bare objective realities like the fact that millions of people can't stay home if they're sick because they won't get paid if they do like the fact that millions of people have little to no financial cushion and can't stock up on necessities if they wanted to or the fact that too many kids are living on the edge and that a college dorm closing or K. through twelve school shutting down for weeks is occasion for profound worry some of what is being revealed is less obvious and more deeply ingrained like the fact that so many people feel on the edge even if on paper they're not is it because the memories of the recession are still fresh and the scars are so deep well that work is so central to American life that people don't know who they are otherwise crises are also great teachers we're learning again what we as people and as a country could have known or should have known but have chosen not to see or act upon surely some of us are going to be asking why why if in a world with an interconnected economic ecosystem with many of our clothes our phones machinery and food coming from China and Europe not to mention Mexico and Canada with US soybeans meat and poultry feeding the world and U. S. machinery and fuel powering it and transporting it why hasn't there been a more coherent global response why aren't we sharing more information and resources of the world's best scientists working together to solve this and if not why not why can some countries test as many people as need to be tested to determine the course of this virus and others with great resources are not why are some communities able to quickly we'll around to offer their students opportunities to take lessons at home but others even jurisdictions right next door to each other even in the same state cannot and finally and yes sure this is a sensitive one but it has to be asked why in a rich country like the United States a proud country a compassionate country is life liberty and the pursuit of happiness a right according to one of our founding documents but the care that could keep you alive or at least well is considered a benefit something you need to earn to your job or received through mercy or righteousness there are always reasons but are there reasons sufficient and relevant to now to what we know now to the facts and science and common sense and moral reasoning now not when our parents told us not what our neighbor said not what everybody thought was right back in the day what makes us feel good about ourselves and our place in the world we're going to be different after this the only question is how and finally today at the south by southwest festival is one of the many sporting and cultural events that have been canceled due to the coronavirus music and Film Festival showcases.

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