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New York bishops welcome rollback of state's DNR order

Wed, 04/22/2020 - 16:30

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 22, 2020 / 02:30 pm (CNA).- The New York State Catholic Conference expressed relief Wednesday, April 22, after the state health department rescinded a statewide do-not-resuscitate order for all patients found without a pulse. 

“We were deeply concerned about these new guidelines for first responders,” Dennis Poust, the director of communications for the NYS Catholic Conference, told CNA.

The conference speaks on policy matters on behalf of the bishops of the state. 

“A human life is a human life," Poust said. "Whether a person is sick with COVID-19 in a hospital or in cardiac arrest in his or her apartment, human dignity demands reasonable effort be made to save that person’s life, absent a do-not-resuscitate order.” 

The order was rescinded on Wednesday. It had previously been issued on April 17, but received widespread media coverage on April 21. 

Before the do-not-resuscitate order was issued, first responders were instructed to spend 20 minutes attempting to revive a patient in cardiac arrest. This was changed, with responders told not to attempt resuscitation at all, after state authorities deemed it “necessary during the COVID-19 response to protect the health and safety of EMS providers by limiting their exposure, conserve resources, and ensure optimal use of equipment to save the greatest number of lives,” said the New York State Department of Health.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Department of Health explained that the initial guidance was “in accordance with American Heart Association guidance and based on standards recommended by the American College of Emergency Physicians” and had been adopted in other, unnamed states. 

The new policies, however, “don’t reflect New York’s standards and for that reason DOH Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker has ordered them to be rescinded.”

Despite the order to not resuscitate patients in cardiac arrest, the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) never changed their policy and its paramedics continued to provide 20 minutes of attempted resuscitation. 

The statewide do-not-resuscitate policy was criticized by the head of the FDNY union. 

“Our job is to bring patients back to life. This guideline takes that away from us,” said Owen Barzilay, union president, in comments published by the New York Post. 

The order was rescinded shortly after it began receiving negative attention in New York media. 

The New York Catholic Conference told CNA they were happy the state moved quickly to change the policy once it became clear that it was deeply unpopular.  

“Clearly the state’s first responders were deeply uncomfortable with this new guidance, and rightly so,” said Poust. 

“We’re grateful the Health Department quickly rescinded this ill-advised order.”

New York, particularly New York City, has been hit harder by COVID-19 than any other part of the country. There have been over 250,000 identified cases of coronavirus, with nearly 15,000 deaths. New York City accounts for about 142,000 of these cases and almost 11,000 deaths.

Archbishop Gomez: In providence, coronavirus is a call to depend on God

Wed, 04/22/2020 - 12:37

CNA Staff, Apr 22, 2020 / 10:37 am (CNA).- In his column on Tuesday, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles said that in God's providence, the pandemic is calling us to remember our need for God and to deepen our solidarity.

“The deepest questions raised by this pandemic are about God and his designs,” the president of the US bishops' conference wrote April 21 at Angelus News. “Where is he and what is he saying to us in this moment — what is he saying to his Church, to the nations of the world, to each of us in our own personal circumstances?”

“I see God calling us, in a most dramatic way, to realize how much we need him, how we cannot live without him,” he answered. “But I also see God calling us to a deeper sense of solidarity, to realize that we are responsible for one another, that we depend on one another and we have to take care of one another.”

The archbishop recalled that in the early years of Christianity, amid epidemics, non-Christians “marveled at the charity and compassion of Christians” as they cared for the sick.

That service continues today, he said, noting online Catholic education, meals provided for poor children, food pantries, and financial assistance given to those in need of food, clothing, and shelter.

“It is inspiring and beautiful. Through the witness of your love, our neighbors can see the presence of the risen Lord, even in this time of affliction and adversity,” Archbishop Gomez wrote.

“God is asking us to share in the insecurities and deprivations that define ordinary life for millions of people in nations around the world. We are being forced to do without what most of our brothers and sisters never had to begin with.”

He said the struggle caused by the inaccessibility of the sacraments “is a hard cross to bear,” but added that “maybe God is asking us to share in the sufferings of the millions of Catholics who live under regimes that repress or persecute the faith. These brothers and sisters of ours hunger and thirst for the sacraments and cannot receive them. This is their daily reality.”

The archbishop acknowledged that while he is grateful to be connected to the people of his local Church through, for example, livestreamed Masses, “a 'virtual Mass' is still virtual … it is not the same as seeing one another face-to-face, drawn together in the fellowship of Christ.”

Archbishop Gomez urged the people of Los Angeles to “intensify our prayers and sacrifices” for those who live in areas where the Church is repressed or persecuted.

“Let us join our sufferings to Our Lord’s passion in his living Body, his Church. Let us offer our sufferings for every person who is bearing greater burdens than we are.”