Here’s an NBC story about the new trend of people getting mad when they show up at hospitals with severe COVID-19 symptoms and the doctors refuse to give them horse dewormer to fix it. Well, it’s mostly a story about the families of COVID-19 patients getting mad when their alleged loved ones aren’t being given horse dewormer, since the actual patients may or may not be in a state where they can argue with anyone. It’s worth reading for the brief rundown of the time a semiprominent Montana Republican octogenarian was hospitalized with COVID-19 and the family had the Republican freakin’ state attorney general badgering the hospital to provide horse dewormer, including threatening to arrest hospital workers.
She died, by the way. It’s not explicitly written that she died of COVID-19. It’s possible that she died from having shitty family members so wrapped up with trying to get junk “Republican” treatments shoved into her mouth that doctors couldn’t focus on giving her actual treatment, for all we know. Not a lot of details there.
We did not have very far to go, between throwing actual literal parades for our medical heroes and people threatening them with violence if their relatives are treated with anything other than Farmers’ Choice Premium Horse Paste, TM, because in truth hospital staff members have long been used to patients and those with patients getting violent, or making threats of violence, when doctors or nurses disagree with them about what their diagnosis should be or what drugs should be dispensed to fix it. There’s something particularly Republican about this new strain, though.
Who thinks ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine represent miracle COVID-19 cures? People who listen to Donald Trump or to the many, many grifters who duct-taped themselves to Donald Trump in order to boost their own fortunes. People who believe Facebook-promoted conspiracy theories. People who listen to malignant conniving jackass Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist and Fox News host Tucker Carlson, or other Trumpian figures who have attempted to convince their supporters that the entire medical profession is wrong and the real COVID-19 remedy is either the drug being boosted by a major donor in case A, or realizing that dying of COVID is just God’s way of stamping you as a true patriot in case B.
Few of us can imagine just how very tired hospital workers must be from treating people who show up at the hospital demanding, essentially, not to be treated. It’s assuredly one of the reasons those professionals are quitting in droves. Even those of us only on the outskirts of the battle are—and I think I speak here for every American who doesn’t have their own set of attached snow-white wings—extremely damn tired of attempting to convince hyperpartisan conspiracy theorists that no, really, a newly emerged infectious disease is not just a plot by world elites to sell face masks, and no, just because you heard some enormous asshole say that drinking bleach, aquarium chemicals, horse dewormers, or a slurry of freshly killed mosquitoes is the new miracle cure does not mean that you, a person with a functioning brain of your own, have to believe them.
What are we to do at this point? When do we give up? At what point are hospital workers entitled to keep themselves safe from disease-infested conspiracy cranks who show up at the hospital demanding doctors not treat them with any of the procedures or drugs known to actually work?
I’m at an absolute loss, and at this point all I can propose is that hospitals just leave out a basket of horse dewormers in the emergency room lobby. Want to be treated by medical professionals? Sign your name and take a seat. Want to get the treatment you saw posted on Facebook, the one all your archconservative pandemic disbeliever friends say is the Real Deal, For Sure This Time? Grab a tube and leave us alone.
Our health care system is already a dystopian hellscape, it’s not hard to imagine us adding this one to the mix.
“Welcome to St. Buffy’s, what’s your emergency?”
“COVID. I caught the COVID thing.”
“I’m so sorry. Are you here for medical treatment, or are you here for the horse paste?”
“Don’t bother me with your expensive mumbo-jumbo, I did my research. Facebook says the horse paste is the thing to use.”
“Understood! Please go down to that door there, the one marked Janitor Closet. Bill, can you show him—”
“Got it, Flora. Hey buddy, you a new patient? C’mon down. I just gotta check whether Todd is back from the farm store. Hey Todd, you back from the farm store? Need some paste here.”
“Stop shouting dammit, I hear you. Jeez. Yeah, I just got back. Another COVID guy? Yeah, we can hook you up. The hospital’s providing free horse dewormer to anyone who wants it. No charge, just gotta sign this form.”
“Are there instructions? Like, what dose should I use.”
“You shouldn’t use any of it. Can’t you read? It says ‘formulated for livestock’ right here. It’s for crapping out internal parasites. If it does a damn thing against a virus, it’s purely coincidence. And I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t be eating any of it, the hospital is just providing this option so the medical staff stop getting death threats.”
“Wait, this form says if I take the horse paste I waive all rights to be treated later. Why would—”
“Yeah, I mean if you wanted to see a doctor, you’d see a doctor, right? We’re just giving you the option to choose the horse paste. You wanna take the horse paste—and I’m not saying you should—it may be that you’re one of the people whose body can’t take it. Also, you may or may not be spending the next two weeks on the toilet, so on your way home you might want to stop and, like, pick up a few magazines or something. But yeah, you have to choose between getting treated by doctors without being a prick about it or taking the horse paste and leave the docs alone. Free horse paste if you leave now, though.”
Would it work? Probably. Would it make any difference in the number of overall deaths? It probably wouldn’t, because anyone stubborn and conspiracy-obsessed enough to show up in a hospital and refuse normal nonconspiracy treatments would die at the same rate whether or not they had to spend a few hours and call in a few political favors to bully the staff first.
It’s a difficult problem, mainly because it’s difficult to understand why ivermectin buffs are showing up in emergency rooms in the first place if they don’t want any treatment other than being dewormed. It would be absolutely ghastly to require medical professionals to provide a treatment that does nothing to combat the virus but stands a good chance of further weakening the body of the patient demanding it.
If there’s just a basket of farm supplies at the hospital entrance with no instructions and no treatment implied, though, maybe that would take everybody’s stress levels down a few notches. Reducing the potential for patient-on-doctor violence is nothing to cough at, you know.