News Story

Man Decries Moratorium On Elective Procedures

‘I could have easily lost ... my life if that clot went to the brain or the heart’

A 61-year-old Michigan man suffering from coronary disease said he could have died due to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s moratorium on elective medical procedures. The moratorium came from one of Whitmer’s 100-plus executive orders issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whitmer issued an executive order on March 20, indefinitely prohibiting dental and medical procedures that were “not necessary to address a medical emergency or preserve the health and safety of a patient.”

Physicians who failed to comply with the order faced a potential misdemeanor criminal charge.

“To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, protect the public health, provide essential protections to vulnerable Michiganders, and ensure the availability of health care resources, it is reasonable and necessary to impose temporary restrictions on non-essential medical and dental procedures,” Whitmer wrote in the order.

Nine days after Whitmer’s executive order went into effect, White Lake resident Jerome Drew woke up with pain in his leg.

Drew, who suffers from coronary disease, said he knew by midday that something was very wrong. It was a sensation he’d experienced before.

“I knew I had another blockage,” he said of the blood clot he was sure had developed in his leg. “It’s a very distinct pain.”

Drew immediately contacted his cardiologist in Pontiac, only to discover that the treatment he expected for the potentially life-threatening condition had been classified as elective, he said.

“They stated they couldn’t do anything because that was classified as an elective procedure,” Drew recounted.

One week later, Drew’s condition still hadn’t improved. He met with his cardiologist in a remote video exchange, and was told to “remain vigilant” for any changes, he said.

“When the foot started to change color and the temperature started dropping, [I] was told by his office to go to the ER,” Drew said.

By that time, he had been living with the progressively worsening blockage for nearly three weeks.

Drew underwent surgery in mid-April, and the blockage was successfully removed. But his frustration over nearly losing his life due to the moratorium has only grown.

“I could have easily lost my leg or my life if that clot went to the brain or the heart,” he said. “Try to imagine thinking about that and the governor in her vast medical expertise classifying it as elective.”

Whitmer rescinded the executive order on May 29, leaving medical facilities scrambling to address the health needs of patients who have been waiting for treatment for months.