With COVID-19 raging through the United States like wildfire, and the controversial US election whipping up rage and spreading misinformation far and wide, Seth Ginsberg is very happy with his decision to move from New York to the relative calm and safety of Australia – his wife’s home country.
A fierce patient advocate for people with rheumatic disease since he was diagnosed with spondyloarthropathy at the age 13, and the co-founder of the multi-national Global Healthy Living Foundation, Seth’s eyes light up at the idea of getting more engaged with the patient community here in Australia. He wants to take on the anti-vaxxers. And expand into Asia Pacific. And he’s very excited to go visit rheumatology clinics around the country – it’s a hobby of his because the patients and conditions are the same in every country but the clinics and culture around healthcare are so different.
He’s got so many ideas I can’t keep up as we throw back a few beers at the Woolpack Hotel in Redfern. We wouldn’t be able to do this in New York, he says. There, you can see the strain on people’s faces. Some days, everyone you see in the street has a furrowed brow. “There was this anxious worry on every single person’s face”, he says.
People living in Australia don’t know how lucky they are, he says. “The COVID response here has been a real credit to this country, the society, its people, its government,” he says. “I think it helps to be a nanny state.” I pull out my recorder to grab a few of the colourful quotes that just keep coming but the noise of the buses zooming past is drowning out the conversation (public transport is another one of Seth’s passions).
So, we arrange to catch up the next day in our podcast studio (this time joined by our new Associate Editor Karina Bray) so we can get something useable for the show. We chat in depth about how CreakyJoints has tried to remain aloof from partisan politics even as the pandemic has turned science into an ideological issue. Patients with rheumatic disease in America fall across the political spectrum – from democrats to republicans, Seth says. “I can’t tell you how many rheumatologists I know that support Trump,” he says. “Too many to count.”
I ask Seth how many people are getting involved with CreakyJoints now. “It’s a lot,” he laughs. The website gets over a million visitors every month. “It’s pretty cool that no one ever has to feel alone, ever again, because of CreakyJoints.”