#AdvocacyMatters: The dark before the dawn

December 4, 2020 / #AdvocacyMatters

Nine months ago the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a global pandemic, and in the time since our lives have changed in ways ranging from how we buy our groceries to how our kids go to school. As the virus continues to spread throughout our state and across our nation – seemingly setting new case, hospitalization, and death records every day – it’s easy to feel helpless. However, as we move into what could be a dark winter, there are several actions that people with disabilities can take to help alleviate complications down the road.

Earlier this week, we published urgent information about the rationing of care we’re concerned could soon follow these record COVID-19 hospitalization rates. It’s important for every Ohioan with a disability to understand their rights concerning medical care and the way it can change amid the pandemic. To put it plainly, hospital protocols that prioritize “young” or “healthy” individuals over those who are “older” or “sicker” cannot be used in lieu of individual assessments of short-term survivability, and people with disabilities should not be excluded from treatment or care or de-prioritized based on stereotypes, perceptions about their quality of life or judgments about their relative worth based on the presence or absence of disabilities or age.

We’ve also developed a factsheet concerning COVID-19 healthcare rights for people with disabilities. The time to review your rights, learn your responsibilities, and prepare your documents is now, not after you get sick or need care. Take some time to talk with your family members and healthcare providers about assistance you may need with communicating or other daily activities, your hospital preference, and any powers of attorney you’ve named for healthcare purposes. It can also be helpful to organize this information into a patient summary form, like this one.

The worst of this pandemic is likely yet to come, but we aren’t powerless against it. By understanding our rights and planning ahead, we can better protect ourselves. We might be heading into a bleak winter, but it’s always darkest before the dawn. We’re going to keep working to inform, empower, and support every Ohioan with disabilities, because #AdvocacyMatters.

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