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Margaret S. Audell: It didn’t have to be this way

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Republican gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and Gov. Gary Herbert at an election night event in Mount Pleasant on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

Dear Gov. Herbert and Lt. Gov. Cox,

It didn’t have to be this way.

You two gentlemen have failed us as leaders. As a retired physician, I never expected to read about the possible implementation of the Utah Crisis Standards of Care Guidelines for the purpose of rationing of care in the intensive care units of Utah. It didn’t have to be this way.

Because of the absence of your leadership, the most heartbreaking and gut-wrenching decisions that physicians must make are on our doorstep. You can no longer ignore it and just hope that COVID-19 goes away.

This was preventable and this was predictable. However, both of you chose to ignore the data and ignore the science. You continued to hope that Utahns would “do the right thing” by wearing masks, socially distancing and limiting gatherings.

News flash, gentlemen, Utahns chose not to do the right thing, and you were too cowardly to take action. Now the Grim Reaper is at the door at your invitation, and you still do not care. I will never understand your reasoning for this inexcusable lapse of judgment.

Imagine the onerous task of scoring the various factors about patients, and determining who will continue to receive the benefits of tertiary critical care medicine and who will not. Really? We are not on the shores of Omaha Beach during World War II, where resources are limited and rapid triage decisions are expected. We are in the 21st century with state-of-the-art medical care in our backyard, but it may as well be thousands of miles away. Do you care about our physicians and support staff who will have to make those decisions? I don’t think so.

I understand the factors that are taken into consideration for the scoring of patients. However, isn’t it sad that if all of the scores are the same, the person over 60 is given a higher score than a younger patient? What if that “older” patient has been a diligent follower of the rules, respecting and protecting others by wearing a mask, socially distancing and giving up many pleasurable communal gatherings both for their own safety as well as the safety of others?

Please tell me how that is fair, especially if the younger patient has been reckless, refusing to wear a mask, failing to assist contact tracers and refusing testing so that recreational activities are not canceled.

It is not for our attending physicians to judge our lifestyle choices, as they have more important things to do, such as risk their lives to save ours.

Is this the best you can do for us? Gov. Herbert, you have nothing to lose, as your term of office is coming to an end. However, I would have expected so much more of you during this pandemic. Your cute little public service announcements with your wife were a joke and did nothing to preserve life.

Lt. Gov. Cox, you had an opportunity to shine, and to show leadership in a time of crisis. You also failed. I guess that you were both more worried about President Donald Trump’s anger if you did anything differently.

Personally, I would be more afraid of that guy who is dressed in black, who is standing at your bedside in the ICU. He goes by the name of the Grim Reaper.

It didn’t have to be this way.

Margaret S. Audell, MD

Margaret S. Audell, M.D., Park City, is a retired obstetrician/gynecologist, who was in full-time private practice for 34 years. She is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Medicine. She served in numerous leadership roles in addition to being chief of staff of Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills, Calif.

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