A view of the Occupied Houses of Parliament from a hospital bed in Wellington
OPINION: A recent experience at Wellington Hospital shaped my view of the occupation in Parliament.
Despite reports of impacts on businesses etc., I don’t think those outside Wellington see the full extent of the disruption the occupation is causing to the social fabric of the city.
As I lay in my hospital bed, unable even to raise my head, I witnessed a rotation of the visitor list at my roommate.
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They discussed the occupation in parliament.
Alright – you can’t restrict people’s access to health support networks because of what they do outside of the building.
What was wrong was the approach of these guests to the measures put in place by the hospital to keep their patients and staff safe.
In the hours I shared a room with this “group”, sometimes reaching seven visitors at a time, I saw countless hospital staff asking them to wear their masks.
This was answered with dismissive comments like “I know”, “yup”, “I will after I drink/eat this”, and “you don’t wear a mask”.
That was wrong – never saw a member of staff without a mask
At no time did visitors put on or keep their masks on.
Obviously not wanting an altercation, and with more medically immediate things to do, the staff would give up.
Meanwhile, the group moved freely around the room without their masks, moving furniture around as they pleased, noisily reveling in their excursions to the occupation, discussing among themselves all the usual misinformation told as fact, and arranging a full picnic to share while outside their home.
All this under the guise of supporting their friend/family member.
As I have lost count of the number of times the nurses have politely asked members to wear a mask to no avail, the nurses have taken a passive-aggressive approach similar to that of the Speaker of Parliament, MP Trevor Mallard, of dim the lights in the room to imply that visiting hours were over (when they had, in fact, ended an hour and a half earlier).
Again, this had little to no impact.
For context, everyone entering the building was given a hospital mask and told they had to wear it at all times, and I was repeatedly told before my surgery that my ONE support person, if necessary, had to be the same person for the entirety of my stay, and could only come during visiting hours.
They were also encouraged to make the visit quick.
As I grew stronger, after listening helplessly to the stories and cacophony of my neighbor’s visitors for hours, I slipped a written note on my phone to the nurse.
This note asked him if it was possible for him to get me a mask so that I could wear one if the visitors of the occupation did not want it.
Unfortunately, due to my condition, I couldn’t, and sobbed salty tears as I have underlying respiratory issues.
The nurse touched my shoulder, looked into my eyes, and whispered, “I know, we’re in it with you,” sharing a moment of fear and helplessness.
This silent interaction happened behind the “security” of the never-quite-closed curtain that separated me from this large group.
What is clear from this whole experience is just how far the intimidation and disruption this anti-warrant movement has reached.
The hospital is about as far from the parliament as you can get without leaving the city center.
Hospital staff were helpless, as were the police in parliament, as they did not want to get into an altercation and antagonize the very ill patient they were visiting, or retaliate for a blunt decision to call in hospital security to remove them. .
So they ended up with just pleas for common decency that fell on deaf ears.
This occupation is disheveling the civilities of our society.
Two weeks ago you would never have seen people so blatantly neglecting medical professionals in their own or.
And I can’t believe the hospital would have tolerated it.
This protest is being orchestrated by groups seizing an opportunity as the country is tired of radicalizing those who are angry, disenfranchised and easily duped using social media politics, fear and misinformation.
There was nothing peaceful about the ‘protest’ after day one – since then the media, MPs, shopkeepers, students, police, civil servants and the general public in Wellington have been abused, threatened, harassed and intimidated indiscriminately.
Let’s stop calling it a protest and call it what it is: a radical occupation of the area surrounding Parliament that terrorizes our capital and actively attempts to unravel our wider social constructs.
I would like to end with a huge thank you to all of the incredible healthcare workers, not just those in Wellington, who are trying to do an already difficult job in an unprecedented global pandemic that has loomed over us for years now and is not yet finished. show his real teeth.