My friend and colleague, Margaret Dominado, wrote the following post concerning the government shutdown. I was very moved by this. I thought that you might find it of interest.
THE HUMAN FACE OF GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
I was given only four hours in the morning of the shutdown to clear my desk and make sure that everything is in order before I locked the door of my health unit. Some of my clients came hoping to get a flu shot before closing their own offices. I told them we are officially closed for business.
My back still ached for giving flu shots non-stop the day before the shutdown. I was standing for almost eight hours and getting barely half an hour for a lunch break. I even extended the schedule for two more hours so I could accommodate the steady flow of my clients. We were all hoping that the shutdown would not happen. Flu surveillance would cease to operate on a shutdown.
The Centers for Disease Control is rendered incapacitated to assist state and local officials in infectious disease surveillance and significantly reduce its capacity to respond to food and disease outbreaks because almost 70% of its staff would be furloughed.
The Food & Drug Administration with half of its staff on furlough, would also be incapable to provide food safety activities and related to routine establishment inspection. Meaning, no tracking of food borne outbreak tracking.
Contrary to what critics say about government workers, most of them are dedicated to serving the public more than any politicians could ever imagine. They expressed deep concern that the public would be deprived of efficient transactions and effective service.
By high noon, I finally closed the door of my office and clinic. I was thinking of the cleaning lady I share coffee with every morning. She has cancer and on chemotherapy. She was looking forward to enrolling in Obamacare. It would be affordable for her who is a single mom with three children. The eldest is going to college. I am worried about her today. Along the hallway, I saw the young interns with a worried look on their faces but managed to smile to me while saying they don’t know when we will meet again. I felt sad. They have dreams and aspirations and youthful enthusiasm. But today, I saw how faded those dreams are in their eyes.
I immensely enjoy the camaraderie and collaboration I had with my clients who are mostly government officials, presidential appointees and legal assistants. I realized I would miss the “picking on my brain” session with the security officer, my repartee with a district attorney on how the body works and the rest of my clients who are always appreciative of what I do for them. I realized I would miss them and the joy it afforded me. You know, Congress did not only take away the food on my table, it also kept me away from the simple joys of my daily life. Talking about the pursuit of happiness as my inalienable right does not make sense to me now.
The streets are beginning to be emptied of men and women on business attires. A few ladies were waiting for their bus and I overheard one of them sighed and said something about her mortgage and becoming homeless. I recognized one of the legal secretaries giving a dollar to an old, disheveled man sitting by the sidewalk. I heard her say that it might be the last dollar for her and for him. It broke my heart. The government workers in my area solemnly walked away from their workplace. I did not hear any grumbling or bitter remarks. I wondered whether this was a passive acceptance of the shutdown or a sense of helplessness, powerlessness and helplessness. I thought of those who shared not only their physical complaints with me but also their heartaches, disappointments, frustrations, loneliness, anxiety, fears, doubts and personal struggles. Most of them will find the shutdown challenging if not downright difficult to manage amidst their own personal and family crisis. When will I see them again?
I felt eerie standing by myself in front of this huge Federal building. I thought to myself, this is America….the land that is so unloved!