A blessed Octave of Corpus Christi!
Since the leaked draft opinion in the Dobbs Case, lots of people are talking about abortion, and Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is taking a lot of direct hits from people who are angry at we who love Him. The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) final decision on abortion may or may not be what we hope for in the end, but believing Catholics should have stood up to be counted before now.
I myself have been working as a health care worker, teacher, and brain injury specialist over the past two years of insanity. There are many like me. Catholic fighting men who have been struggling over these months of Marxist takeover need to arise now more than ever.
Here’s my story. It’s the story of many Catholics.
Chaos and Confusion
In March 2020, just before St. Patrick’s Day, we started wearing the blue surgical masks at the Center. It wasn’t the end of the world; if there’s one thing emergency and disaster response people appreciate, it’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
What we don’t appreciate is confusion.
Confusion leads to panic. When you panic, you check reason at the door. Panic can get you hurt. Or killed. The people working for the Center were long-term, facility-based healthcare workers, though. They weren’t first responders or disaster response. Maybe they didn’t think that this confusion would be a big deal.
Staff temperatures were taken and symptom questionnaires completed as each worker arrived for work. A week or two later, we began going out, twice a week, to a huge outdoor privately-contracted county testing site at the beginning of shift. Back in our building, there were a variety of directives from one day or week to the next. You’d get accustomed to one protocol and then it would change. Over and over. It started with single-use surgical masks (each one authorized for indefinite use till wet or soiled). Then they added a plastic face shield. Overnight, it became full droplet precautions on all patient care units, then only inside patient rooms, then N95s and face shields on units but the blue masks everywhere else, then blue masks everywhere, then… who knows?
The Medical Committee Circus
One might assume that the precaution level was based on the number of confirmed infections or on some State requirement. That was not always the case. You relied on your department head to disseminate information he got from the administrator at the remote administrative meeting every morning. Sometimes he would get it right, sometimes he wouldn’t, and sometimes he would make it up.
At one point, it was blue masks off units and N95s and shields on units. We donned and doffed the PPE at the unit entrance and deposited it haphazardly into paper bags with each person’s name on it… which were kept in a cardboard box with everybody else’s bag.
It was a mess. Real infection control did not exist.
In-house nasopharyngeal tests twice a week took the place of the ones administered at the county site. Then that changed to nasal swabs twice a week, then once a week, twice again, twice a week if there had been documented cases in the last two weeks, then only if there had been more than two cases in two weeks, then only if there were any staff cases, then twice a week regardless of how many cases if any.
What constituted a case, anyway? That was anybody’s guess. There was no privacy during testing, and panicked employees, managers, and administrative people discussed the results all over the building. The last directive I recall was: once a month nasal swabs for everyone.
The Staff and Patients
Donning and doffing stations were then set up outside each patient room, which then changed to two stations per unit (one for each side of the floor). Many staff took donning and doffing seriously, others didn’t. Some tried to be conscientious. Others were conscientious but exhausted, and cut corners whenever they could. Others only bothered when the nursing supervisor was around.
Were the more comfortable KN95s an approved substitute for the fit-tested N95s? It depended on which units, and who you asked and when you asked them. It was NOT strictly based on the prevalence and incidence of cases.
It was tough for the staff who worked with patients who needed full hands-on cares. They sweat buckets all shift long. It was like a never-ending mass casualty incident (MCI), only these were not emergency responders trained to operate at MCIs.
Patients could rarely leave their rooms for over a year, and no visitors were allowed. Staff-to-patient interaction occurred through a barrier of N95, face shield, gloves and gown. This was like torture for patients who were not alert and oriented. I know this because most of my patients were in this category. I spent most of my shift working with exactly this type of patient. TBI, anoxic and stroke patients, mostly.
Yet, I thought the job was pretty straight-forward. The reasoning behind the level of PPE each day didn’t concern me; I needed to stay in my lane and let the Medical Director and Director of Nursing or Supervisor own that. Others felt differently.
The Hero and the Jab
In October 2020, I traveled across state to do direct care work on another facility’s forty-bed dedicated COVID floor. That meant full droplet precautions, donned and doffed between every patient contact, no exceptions, for eight to fourteen hours a day. I had to take two in-house nasopharyngeal tests per week and they put me up at a nearby motel after shift. On return to my home facility, I got a hero’s welcome, which was a major distinction, considering the fact that we had all gotten used to the title, “healthcare hero” over the course of so many months.
As of late November 2020, no one was excited about any vaccine. It wasn’t even till December that it was mentioned by anyone in charge. Then, on 23 December 2020, my department head announced that there would be a vaccine clinic on site the next day, Christmas Eve. He was going for his shot at noon, and he expected to “see [us] all there.”
I’m embarrassed to say that we all showed up as we were told.
At one point during the running of the clinic, my department head got everyone’s attention and asked, “By a show of hands, how many are now vaccinated?” Two other department heads came into the same area at different times that day and asked if those who wanted to get the shot had gotten the shot. My impression is that they were expert gaslighters.
Anno Domini, MMXXI
As the new year 2021 dawned, we were having department meetings every single morning right after the Administrator’s remote morning meeting with management broke off. This practice started sometime the previous fall, I think. It was still going strong – honly the emphasis now shifted from support for line staff and the maintenance of our programs, to the subtle and not-so-subtle push for staff vaccination. Staff wore full PPE during these in-person meetings – whatever that meant on any particular day – and for me, that meant N95. My department head felt free to adjust his mask or even pull it down for comfort while speaking to us.
In-house vaccination clinics continued to be organized every so often, although you had to register for your shot in advance and sign a waiver. Anyway, a part of each in-person morning meeting were the two questions,
“So is everyone vaccinated? How many people are unvaccinated, show of hands?”
Remember – this was only January 2021. Also worth noting is the size of our department; there were twelve of us. Somebody got noticed real quick.
In addition to our regular duties, a few of us – myself included – performed some of the duties of a nurse’s aide. On top of that, my department colleagues and I were expected to sign up to assist with feeding the fully-dependent patients during our shifts and after hours. Over time pay for voluntary and mandated duty was not authorized till Summer 2021.
Even so, Summer was a long time away. As of January and February and time going forward, competing directives came out every day. Department heads would announce something that was said at the administrator’s morning meeting, then the director of nursing might say something that contradicted that directive. Trusted colleagues from other departments might offer yet another impression of things when you would meet up with them in the café, and your department head might claim to get an altogether different answer from the administrator when he asked for clarification… which often resulted in a mid-afternoon facility-wide email from somebody with the “final word” on the subject.
For the moment.
Finally, there was a bit of good news in the late Spring. Patients were allowed to be escorted from their rooms to a designated spot inside the building and to places outdoors for family visits.
The New York Mandate
In mid-August, New York’s mandate was announced. On September 27, all employees were expected to show proof of vaccination “or you can’t work here anymore” as of the end of shift. As much as the previous seventeen months had seemed to drag on, the forty-three days between the announcement and the deadline dragged on and on and on. Every day the two questions would be asked.
“Everybody’s vaccinated, right? Anybody not vaccinated?”
Everyone knew who wasn’t vaccinated. The overwhelming majority of staff were vaccinated, and they were proud of it. It seemed as though this, more than anything else they had done during the ongoing MCI-type conditions for the previous year and a half, made them feel heroic.
I still remembered when I was considered a hero. Not anymore.
But I wasn’t going to think about that. I had patients and I had a job to do. But in my work outside the Center – or during a day off here and there – I had trouble downshifting. The standard at the center, such as it was, was different from the standard set on the emergency scene, which was different from the one set for the disaster zone, which was different from the one set inside Wal-Mart and then at my favorite restaurant and then the gas station and then church.
It crushed me not to be able to go to church. And then to see pope and bishops and clergy, whose counterparts in centuries-past served the sick and dying during many a plague, now need a Supreme Court Justice to make the observation that, “if you can open a movie theatre or a bar you can open a church.” Meanwhile, as of today, none of the Catholic patients at my facility have seen a priest since the start of the pandemic. The twice monthly Tuesday Mass was almost the first thing that was discontinued in March 2020.
Hero to Zero
As time went on, there were fewer professional opportunities for me than there had been up to March 2020 to be sure. When it came to contract work, no one seemed to want people from New York anymore. I think all sorts of government agencies and employers who take on contractors and volunteers were monitoring our social media, and maybe even vaccination records from the job.
Those of us who still resisted the jab were being slowly shut out.
I think that kind of thing became obvious when Cuomo and DeBlasio sent the federal military assets away from New York City mostly-unused in April and May 2020. I had signed up to serve there and had been denied. There was another operation that I was asked to sign on to – another military field hospital in Santa Clara – and I got told to stand down the day before I was supposed to fly out. I was vetted and preparing to deploy out to the Navajo Nation on another operation when I was told, yet again, to stand down. In fact, after heading down range on disaster response operations on a regular basis from 2017 through the start of 2020, I got called up for and actually wound up sent on exactly one such deployment since the start of the pandemic till today – and I have a feeling that some poor mobilization specialist got chewed out for that one.
After being in somewhat high demand for my skill set and my willingness to serve before the pandemic, this new feeling of uselessness was alienating. Depressing. Almost traumatic.
I kept reminding myself to think about how the patients feel.
Deadline for the Vaccine
So, all that said, who had time for vacations? I certainly didn’t. That’s why, as September 2021 approached, I had about one hundred ninety personal hours I needed to use before I would forfeit them at the end of the calendar year.
So, well in advance of the two weeks’ notice I had to give for a time off request, I asked for time in late September – and was denied. The reason, given at that time in August, was, “I can’t approve any time off for you until you let me know what you’re doing about vaccination.” I replied that I was reviewing my options and would let him know, which did not change the boss’s decision, and he then suggested that I may want to file for a religious exemption. Did he not know that Cuomo had excised it from the state mandate, or was this more gaslighting? I made no reply and wished him a good day.
There is no way that I can exaggerate for you the oppressive distraction I experienced while trying to care for my patients during the next forty-three days. I was permitted no vacation, I was – by now – getting overtime pay for my extra shifts (the money from which I was saving up in case I lost my job), I was saying my goodbyes to the patients I had known and worked with for a long time. People who had overcome tremendous obstacles on their way back from horrible accidents, debilitating disease processes, and destructive habits of mind and soul.
There was no way to know which colleagues or supervisors genuinely sympathized with my position and who was trying to get information for the boss.
I’m simply not going to accept an abortion-connected vaccine. I know the distinction between remote and proximate causes, and I know all about secondary, unintended effect. I also know that these seem to be the only Catholic moral principles that anybody gives a crap about anymore. I also know that many Catholics are never more excited to learn something about the faith than when they’re trying to figure out some legitimate, religiously-sanctioned way to avoid something unpleasant.
I also know that human dignity has never been more under assault than it is right now. My patients can give much better witness to this fact than I ever could. All of this, at a time in history in which information is so accessible, right at people’s finger tips. I also know that if the vaccines were connected in any way with cell lines derived from a baby seal or a death row inmate – even one that died sixty years ago – we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Lastly, I know that many good Catholic people identify a deep anxiety and frustration – a type of powerlessness – when it comes to the slaughter of the innocent. Here is the chance to take the power back by not exploiting the murder of the innocent merely to keep a job.
Why my bishop and yours won’t take the same opportunity to defend conscience rights and unborn life is beyond me. Why he won’t galvanize the people and the resources under his care or at his disposal for this end like he does for other “social issues” is, likewise, beyond me.
That he – your bishop and mine – cooperates directly in the lie that a clergyman’s letter of reference is needed for a successful religious exemption request enrages me. It enrages me because he’s actually putting people who want to seek exemptions in the position to forfeit hope of getting one because they think that successful application is predicated on his help although SCOTUS and the EEOC have already said that it isn’t.
The Saga Continues
So, I was able to work past the September 28 mandate deadline under a religious exemption after a federal judge issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on September 14, 2021, the Feast of the Holy Cross. The TRO was successfully defended in court and then successfully argued against by the lawyers of “Catholic” Governor Hochul – who once made a televised appearance at a Protestant church to tell the congregants that they would need to “be [her] apostles” in the fight to get Christians vaccinated.
SCOTUS, in the person of Justice Sotomayor, refused to grant an emergency hearing, and I was then suspended without pay. It’s important to note that not every healthcare facility in every county here reads the mandate the same way, and while some colleagues statewide had their religious exemptions pulled and got fired, others did not and continue to work.
As of the Feast of Corpus Christi, I am without regular income or health insurance, having been officially terminated earlier this year, 2022. I’m also told that the same case which was denied emergency relief last fall may have been conferenced by SCOTUS as recently as yesterday, in preparation for full review on the merits!
Please pray and fast and give an alms for this intention.
The enemy hates preborn life. He hates the Holy Cross. He hates the Blessed Sacrament. He hates you and he hates me. So does anyone who joins him. Let’s be OK with that.
With nationwide abortion on demand about to be rolled back, he’s coming after the Blessed Sacrament in our churches.
He’s also coming after you and I.
Now is not the time to panic, any more than it was time to panic when this worldwide sickness began – and for the same reason.
On behalf of any of my colleagues in healthcare and in other fields who may still be affected by government mandates and waiting on SCOTUS to act, I wish to ask:
Please help us with your penance and your prayers and with opportunities for contract work or employment if you are in need of it.
We’ve done nothing wrong. We just want to be restored to the privilege of serving those in need as Catholics, be good Americans, and save our souls in the end.
May the Heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved, with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even until the end of time.
Editor’s note: please contact the Confraternity of Our Lady of Fatima for assistance, both religious, legal and potentially financial, if you face loss of income due to your conscientious stand against the jab or other such unjust regulations. Please contact us if you can offer any help to our brethren in need.
Photo by Richard Catabay on Unsplash
M. Proximus is a New York healthcare worker.