To the governor it may concern,

Last year, when my dad was in the hospital with COVID-19 for two weeks, fearing that he was on the edge of his life,  he called me and said, “Morgan you’re my writer. You have to write down all of my stories before I go.”

A month or so later, he was hospitalized again—spending months on a ventilator following complications from a coronary bypass surgery.

He couldn’t talk. Nor could he breathe on his own. And all I wanted to do was be with him but I couldn’t. And I couldn’t write his stories because he couldn’t tell them to me — so this is the one I wrote.

A decade or so from now we are going to look back on history and regret how we allowed people to suffer alone — with no one familiar there to squeeze their hand (even if it was through latex gloves, teary eyes, and fogging face shields).

A patient in the ICU for weeks or months, like my dad, didn’t just have to recover from open-heart surgery — he’d have to recover from the trauma caused by a near-death experience in prolonged isolation. And patients hospitalized for cancer or traumatic injuries have to endure loneliness, loss of hope, depression, and anxiety — conditions that can be alleviated by having loved ones near. Low morale in a hospital without visitors is as contagious as the virus itself.

My dad was admitted and transferred to four hospital facilities in Arizona over the span of six months — all of which had banned all visitors.

If there’s one takeaway we learn from this pandemic —besides preparing better for the next global health crisis — it’s just how inextricably linked our mental and physical health are. And how we should never force someone to fight for their life alone.

Let’s reunite patients with their loved ones.


Dad’s Writer