SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) – Residents of Sarasota County packed a board room at Sarasota Memorial Hospital on Tuesday afternoon after the local Democratic Party sounded the alarm over what they say is an attempt by the Conservatives to politicize local health care.
The Tories, on the other hand, say they want an investigation into accusations that patients’ rights have been routinely violated in cases involving treatment methods and visits from family members.
Calling three newly elected hospital board members “science freedom extremists,” Sarasota County Democratic Party Chair JoAnne DeVries said in a press release that the three “threatened the integrity and the future” of the hospital.
The three new board members targeted in the Democrats’ press release – Patricia Maraia, Bridgette Fiorucci and Victor Rohe – campaigned on the platform of “medical freedom”, an idea championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis during the COVID-19 pandemic, which rejects state or federal vaccine and mask mandates in favor of an individual’s right to choose their treatment.
Dr. Jay Wolfson, senior associate dean for health policy and practice at the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine, says it’s important to realize the country is in a time when politicization has affected almost everything in our lives. “Education, health care, transportation, almost everything public has been shone in a stronger political light,” he told ABC7. “And that reflects how concerned I think our public is about the value they’re getting for their taxes.”
Board members with political agendas could be worrisome, he said. “I think you just have to be careful.”
“If they have their personal political beliefs about the value of vaccines, that’s one thing. But unless and until our community experiences another horrific event like COVID in 2020 and 2021, I think we have it pretty well under control now,” he said.
“I don’t see exactly what the board could do to harm the health of the public unless it invokes policies that create risk inside the facility for patient care and quality. “
At Tuesday’s meeting, when members of the public had time to speak, Jenny Naylor said she had come from Boston to speak about her mother, who died of complications from COVID-19 in hospital.
Naylor said his mother, while here on vacation, was hospitalized with COVID-19. She said doctors had started administering Actemra, a drug cleared by the FDA for emergency use for COVID-19 patients. Two days later, Naylor says her mother’s liver began to fail.
His lungs began to fill with fluid and another drug, Remdesivir, was prescribed for him. Three days later, Naylor said, her mother’s kidneys began to fail. “Antibiotics were given, seven days after she asked for them,” Naylor told the council.
Her father asked doctors to treat his wife with ivermectin, a controversial drug touted by some but dismissed by most medical experts. Doctors at Sarasota Memorial, Naylor said, refused to administer ivermectin.
Naylor’s mother died 12 days after his admission.
Naylor pointed out that in November 2020, the World Health Organization recommended against the use of remdesivir in cases of COVID-19. She wants an investigation to find out why the hospital used this treatment. “Legal rights were violated and harmful drugs were administered,” she told the council.
“For my mother and for all the others who have apparently died because of these protocols, I beg you to do your job.”
Several doctors working at Sarasota Memorial Hospital also addressed the board, defending their work to fight a growing and dangerous virus. Sarasota native and radiologist Dr. Richard Lichtenstein says hospital management has worked tirelessly to refine its response to the emergency.
“I want you to know that the leadership of medical staff … met regularly every week, and at the start and during the wave, met frequently daily, several times a day, to deal with each new problem and changeover,” he said. he declares.
Wolfson says it may be too early to worry about what the new board members might bring to the table. “It’s also been my experience that, however radical or wildly conservative individuals may be, once they get into an institution and see how it really works…they relax a bit and learn to understand and to appreciate the complexities of running an institution and providing care within its walls.
“Especially institutions as complex and dynamic as Sarasota Memorial Hospital in the community,” he said.
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