Why Are Loved Ones Dying Alone?


By Rev. Mrs. Wambui Njoroge, MS.

(Child and Family Studies).

Where are we with this Global Pandemic? We are in the 7th month. So, we are strong and resilient.

During COVID-19 Pandemic, why are loved ones dying alone in hospitals? There is no substitute or replacement for a loved one.  Looking back to December 2019, before COVID-19 family members were called to a loved one’s bedside during those last moments of life. They did not get to say goodbye on a phone video call, or wave through a window of some nursing home. We know our world changed and in many instances affected by this pandemic. Like HIV Aids, even those who are doing well are affected.  When COVID-19 Pandemic became a part of our household name, our traditions were replaced with new ones. We called it the new normal, but it is far from normal.  In this so-called new normal, why are loved ones continuing to die alone in the hospitals?  One Saturday in the month of March, I saw a news flash that prompted me to search online for an article. The article was right there in the New England Journal of Medicine dated March 21, 2020. In a way it kind of answered this question. It might have something to do with rationing of scarce health resources.

Rationing of scarce medical resources in a Global Pandemic. Who lives and who does not?  Should COVID-19 dictate that your loved one ends up in ICU; it will not really matter whether during admission you check the medical codes “Full” that you want your life preserved at any cost: DNR-Do not resuscitate or DNI-Do not intubate. All this will mean very little or nothing when there is scarcity of resources. It might not even matter that you have medical insurance or not. Neither will your consent matter any more, nor that of your spouse or any family member you have given power of attorney. This is only applicable if a loved one is dying of COVID-19. Why? Because COVID-19 is a new disease, so far there is no cure, there is no vaccine and there is no agreed treatment. Your doctor and  your bedside nurse will not be able to help your loved one. All they can do is promise you that, “they will do all that is possible.”  So, brace yourselves as the Toughest Triage Committee takes over.

The Toughest Triage Allocating Ventilators In a Pandemic/NEJM, March 21, 2020.  When you read the article, you will notice that when a loved one needs a “mechanical ventilator, there is “Limited window during which they can be saved.” Worse still, nobody will tell you that “Today withdrawal of ventilatory support is the most common proximate cause of death in ICU patients.” ✔ Dr. Robert Tru, MD, Christine Mitchell, RN, George Daley, MD.PhD.www.NEJM.org Our Social media is bombarded with baseless propaganda, which might have discouraged people from searching the truth of what is happening around us.

 The Triage Committee:  Welcome The Toughest Triage Committee for allocating ventilators. Some people refer to this team of administrators as ” The Death Panel.”  This Team is already in place at a hospital near you. It seems like something a person reads in economics and business theory; and hope it will never happen. The theory has been translated into practice. The Problem with the Triage Officers, who decide who lives or who does, not is that these are “people with no clinical responsibilities for the care of the Patient.” This way, they can remain ethically objective. After all they will not need to feel the way your doctor and nurse feel. The ones who pray, and do everything possible so “that no one dies under their watch.”  The ones who line up and clap when patients recover and are discharged. Please understand that it is not personal. It is due to the shortage of Tests, PPE. ICU beds, Ventilators, therapeutics, and vaccines.”  So the African Doctor who had a video go viral, may have had a point, which we missed. Supposing in her clinic she has all the equipment and she is able to help her 350 patients? Would they not recover. Probably in the misinformation, once sorted out, we might find rumors of angels.

Who Gets Health Resources During  Pandemic?  Obviously the young who have potential to live the longest healthy lives. The young people who have not lived their lives. So if anyone laughed at or had no empathy for the millennials and the Z-generation protesting in BLM, that is the person who woke up on the wrong side of history. That group of young adults you watched on the streets of the USA, the young people who started a global movement – those are the ones we should advocate for. The second group to get health resources will be first responders, the doctors- because it takes many years to become a doctor who can treat and save 50 people on a given day. Alongside Doctors are the nurses and other health care workers. Last if at all there are left over health resources, they might be given to healthy adults 60 + who are productive in society like the philosophers, the legislators, the President, Dr. Faucci types, scientists, the professors, and other older adults deemed by our Western society to be of value to society. This grim scenario goes for the vaccine too…who is going to be the guinea pig? It will not be given to the young until it is proved to be safe.  My heart goes out to our seniors in nursing homes, the ones with preexisting conditions and the ones with compromised immunity. May God have mercy on those who are 55 + years old. Please remember that anyone dismissed by the Triage Officers is a loved one-a friend or a neighbor or it could be you. This is why we should be concerned, and prayerful remain safe and determined to overcome COVID-19 and its effects on the sanctity of life. We all should speak up. Don’t just watch in silence, do something about it. Find the right platform to speak out from.

Sanctity of Life: Earlier in the year, Articles 1 & 2 discussed  older adults’ Primary and Secondary Aging.  This was followed by an article on Western vs Biblical Perspective of Aging. There was a question posed about the sanctity of life. When does it start?  When does it end? The right answer is from notes, Sanctity of life is from birth till death-each person should be allowed to complete their being the way the Bible has put it. Some people call it aging gracefully. Unfortunately, in a global pandemic, sanctity of life is not relevant, especially for seniors.It seems like it has been erased or deleted.Why can’t we wait for a vaccine? Majority of people in the Diaspora are afraid of this word. It is mostly believers who peddle propaganda news of Bill Gates and all that mumbo jumbo. Have we forgotten that each one of us who immigrated to the US as adults, you are alive because you have had at least 6 or more vaccines since you were born and raised in Africa. Otherwise someone else will be telling your story. 

Vaccines: Who will get it first? When will this be? For more information about how vaccines might be rationed visit www.NEJM.org. There is an interesting article in the “Sounding Board”  It is entitled, “Fair Allocation of Scarce Medical Resources in the Time of COVID-19” by E.J. Emmanuel and others. It details Who, What, Where, When, and How a vaccine once available will be tested and made available. 

What Next?  We are in a great race to get a vaccine. On your mark, Go! We gonna make it/comments or concerns-revwambuifavored@gmail.com.

Rev Wambui Njoroge

Senior Columnist

Kenyan Parents In USA

CS Education and Sports

Diaspora National Assembly

MH Stars Coodinator

Public Speaker and advisor on Mental Health and Depression Awareness

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