DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have cancer. I live in a fairly small town with a fairly small hospital. There is only one oncology practice, with only one oncologist. The next town is not close.
At my last appointment, the doctor and I were both wearing masks. The hospital does not let anyone into the building without a mask and temperature test. I said something that was a little muffled that I had to repeat. Pointing to his mask, the oncologist said, “These masks don’t do anything anyway. They don’t help; they’re just for show.”
This is a doctor whose patients are virtually all immunocompromised, since most cancer drugs wipe out our white cell count. If this man doesn’t believe masks work, why would he take precautions outside of the hospital?
Gossip spreads easily around here, and I am afraid to say anything to anyone about this for fear he would likely find out who “complained.” As I said, there is no other oncologist in town.
GENTLE READER: Doctors and hospitals are supposed to be more discreet than the average resident, but Miss Manners understands both your concern and your urgency. As the goal is to hide in plain sight, she can offer two solutions: sharing all of your concerns with someone in authority whom you trust -- your general practitioner, perhaps -- and asking that person to act, discreetly, on your behalf; or mobilizing fellow patients to crowd the hospital administration with multiple, identical complaints.