“Dr. Marshall, I’d like you to meet a new per diem nurse,” the Nurse Manager said to me the other day.
“Nice to meet you,” I said to the new hire. “What brings you to our clinic on a part time basis?”
“Well, I had a full time job working with patients with diabetes that was funded through a federal grant, but because of the government shutdown, that money is now gone. I needed to find another job fast so I could pay my rent.”
Well, there you have it. Many people are saying they don’t feel the effects of the government shutdown, so what’s the big deal? Little do they know, it has far reaching implications, and the nation’s health is already taking a hit. Here are some more ways how:
Sick patients eligible to enroll in clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are being turned away, though ongoing trials are expected to continue.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) aren’t tracking the spread of the Flu or other infectious diseases for that matter. The money has run dry. In fact, they can’t guarantee that many things on their website will be updated or processed until government funding resumes. That can’t be good.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is unable to carry out routine inspections and lab research. Sixty percent of their investigators have been furloughed, and they were asked to turn in their government phones so they can’t respond to emails or calls. Since work is now piling up on their desks, experts worry that the repercussions on the nation’s food safety will last well beyond the shutdown.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) which provides infant formula and newborn supplies for disadvantaged families, is in jeopardy, too. New moms in some states have already been turned away. Really? Are lawmakers going to allow newborn infants to starve to make a political point?
And what about the nation’s Head Start early education program? It’s estimated that 19,000 children aren’t in preschool now because of funding lapses.
In some states, energy-assistance programs, which help low-income residents heat their homes, could eventually run out of money, just as temperatures are beginning to drop.
Meals on Wheels could run out of money to provide food to the elderly and chronically ill if funding doesn’t resume soon.
This is no joke. All of these programs that have been crippled or are under threat of elimination are crucial to our nation’s wellbeing.
Please, members of Congress, do what you know is right and reopen the government’s doors for business.
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