When medical ethics collide with basic fairness

This stopped being something I only read about in the news when it hit home for my friend Betsy Phillips, a writer and local historian who has been contending all year with a life-threatening condition that remained undiagnosed until very recently. For her, a breakthrough Covid infection could be devastating.

She felt a little better when she finally got a diagnosis for the mysterious condition that had been making it difficult for her to breathe: granulomatous disease, the result of a histoplasmosis infection. Surgery to remove the growth that is pressing on her windpipe wouldn’t make Tennessee less of a Covid hot spot, but at least it would let Betsy breathe freely again.

But earlier this month, the hospital called and canceled her operation. It didn’t have room for her because it was treating too many unvaccinated Covid patients. As Betsy put it in an essay for The Washington Post, “They wouldn’t do their civic duty, but they get access to hospitals in front of those of us who did.”