Let’s talk about poverty and how it plays a role in pandemics (specifically covid-19 and the current state of things in the US).
First, to get this out of the way ,
Poverty does not mean someone is…
deserving of their position
has made mistakes
is suffering consequences
or any of that B.S.
Now that that’s out of the way. Let’s move on.
Impoverished areas tend to have worse health care with low availability than areas of higher average income. And it has only gotten worse over the past 4 years. This means that in these areas everyone is of a much higher risk category when it comes to having community impact from covid-19. There are a couple factors playing into this, but let’s start with the accessibility question.
Closure of Rural Hospitals
Rural hospitals often serve impoverished areas. Because healthcare in the United States is privatized it is not secure. Based on whether or not a larger medical network parent hospital corporation thinks a hospital is profitable, a hospital can be closed down. This is not a new problem. It’s been going on for the past decade, quietly, while everyone else focused on all of the other aspects of healthcare. Except for rural communities where we banded together and started figuring out Ag worker clinics and other ways to cover vitals needs. But guess what: that can’t do crap against the coronavirus.
Since coronavirus entered the United States, West Virginia saw the closure of Fairmont Regional Medical Center at the hands of California owned Alecto Healthcare Services. Other hospitals across the United States are closing and laying off workers to reduce costs and shift resources within these greater hospital networks, like Alecto Healthcare Services. This reduces the resources available to impoverished or communities that might not make these networks as much money. Another example is Missoula, Montana where Western Montana Clinic laid employees ahead coronavirus in a similar way.
Bloomberg reported back in January that hospital closures were becoming a concern prior to the coronavirus hitting the United States media’s attention. The article references hospital networks taking these actions as a means of weeding out “weaker facilities”.
“Some of the more recent closings are the result of large health systems weeding out weaker facilities. That’s the case with hospitals run by Community Health Systems Inc. and its spin-off, Quorum Health Corp.”
All of the areas where these hospitals once were are at much higher risk of having their remaining healthcare systems overwhelmed.
Under the Trump economy, hospitals have suffered immensely as measured by the Polsinelli TrBK Health Care Services Distress Index (tracks bankruptcy filings in health-care). Not only has this president set our healthcare system up to fail during his entire time in office, he is now trying to deny all responsibility. I don’t identify with a political party in the United States, but seriously.
Essential employees include delivery drivers, manufacturing employees, gas station workers, grocery store check out clerks, health care workers, government workers, and all of these low-paid minimum wage jobs. Who makes minimum wage?
Many of the essential employees that are still going to work are the same ones making minimum wage. They are also the ones living in low income areas where healthcare is suboptimal, easily overwhelmed, and is far away. Assuming they can afford it at all.
Notice something that will make your heart break? Where did all of the hospitals close?
Update: as of 31 March 2020
I’m not a religious person, but I ask if you read this to pray for those communities. This is where flattening the curve is both most important and least likely to happen. For further reading on how the US is doing with that check out this post here.
Happy to update this and answer questions, plus dress this up with additional research.
Thank you for reading – without you these would just be shouts into the ether.