Doggone Shutdown – Literally!

October 7, 2013 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

the-look-1044013-mWe now enter the second week of the federal government shutdown with no end in sight as Congress continues to ignore the obvious need to address federal funding to keep our country running. House Republicans had offered that services are still being provided, mail is being delivered and “so what if a few museums have been closed.” Well, try to tell that to Abbey Whetzel and her son Sam.

Who are they, you ask? I refer you to a recent blog post from National Public Radio. Abbey’s 12-year-old son Sam has been at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center for more than a month. Sam has leukemia that is no longer treatable, according to the blog, adding that one source of joy has been the therapy dogs that come to visit the sick kids.

“They can only come once a week, but it’s the highlight of Sam’s week,” Whetzel said in the blog post.  However, thanks to the government shutdown, NIH told Sam that the therapy dog wouldn’t be coming. “He was disappointed. He really looks forward to the dogs coming. He has a special fondness for the little dogs that can come and just sit on his bed and lie down and curl up with him.”

This may be a relatively minor issue compared to some other major impacts of the shutdown, but it shows that the shutdown is more than “just closing a few museums.” It affects lives. The NPR blog post added that the NIH Clinical Center, which is the nation’s largest hospital dedicated solely to clinical research, treats patients seeking options for difficult-to-treat illnesses. However, NIH will not enroll new patients in ongoing studies or clinical trials (except for a few cases) for the duration of the shutdown. In a normal week, about 200 new people would be enrolled in clinical trials that are testing new treatments, the post said.

Just think if you were desperate for treatment and this was your last hope. Well, tough luck. Congress has decided that its own stubbornness trumps all. Sam, no dogs for you. In fact, no dogs for anyone.  What a shame!

Maybe if our congressmen and women, or their kids, had a desperate need for NIH’s services, they might change their tune. One would hope…

Let us know how you feel about the shutdown and what missing services you are concerned about. We want to hear from you.



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