During your show on 8 September 2021, you commented on the shortage of ICU beds, saying “Vaccinated person having a heart attack? Yes, come right on in, we’ll take care of you. Unvaccinated guy who gobbled horse goo? Rest in peace, wheezy.” I take issue with your commentary for three primary reasons: 1) the comments appear to be racially discriminatory, 2) the comments are not founded in science and serve to further divide a country that, unfortunately, is taking medical advice from too many non-physicians, and 3) the suggestion that doctors should selectively treat patients is unethical.
To be clear, I am vaccinated against COVID and am not “anti-vax.” In addition to the COVID vaccine, I have been vaccinated against smallpox, anthrax, rabies, and a whole litany of diseases the military deemed worthy. Instead, I value informed patient consent and ultimately patient choice. Patients may make personal health decisions I do not agree with about a great many health conditions, but it is my DUTY to lay out the risks and benefits of treatment options and, in the end, respect patient autonomy and decisions. So, let me address each of my original points individually:
First, the category of “unvaccinated Americans” includes ALL racial/economic groups. In my practice a large percent of the unvaccinated patients are non-white – on the surface your statements could make you appear racist since you are targeting unvaccinated Americans and non-Whites disproportionately make us this group. You may want to further understand the group of individuals you are suggesting should not be treated. Our country has already come so far in providing non-discriminatory medical care. Do you really want to encourage us to regress?
Second, if we follow your logic to its reasonable end, as healthcare providers should we stop treating a multitude of other conditions that derive from personal choice and cost our country far more in terms of money, time, and hospital resources? These categories are, at a minimum:
Diseases of Obesity (heart disease, strokes, diabetes, many cancers, orthopedic injuries, etc.)
Your suggestion that we deny patients care based upon a vaccination status would indicate that you would endorse denying treatment to all of these people as well. Is this really how you think? This would require hospitals to triage patients with a drug test, breathalyzer, weight scale, etc. and deny treatment accordingly. Your own backyard in Hollywood is rife with those who would be denied health care if these were the new rules of healthcare.
According to the CDC’s website, “The risk of severe COVID-19 illness increases sharply with elevated body mass index (BMI).” So, if you’re suggesting we deny access to treatment based upon a personal choice of getting or not getting the vaccine, then, we must also deny treatment to those who are obese, which is caused in large part by personal choice. I would think that Hollywood’s efforts would be better suited to emphasize making personal choices that would increase the likelihood of survival through healthy eating, regular activity, and internal locus of control over wellbeing rather than support governmental edicts that close churches, gyms, and schools. Eighteen months into the pandemic Americans should have been exercising more, eating better, taking supplements, and practicing faith to reduce the negative physiological consequences of COVID. Consider for a moment how many lives would have been saved from COVID and other diseases in America if there was a national personal health and accountability crusade? How many hundreds of thousands of non-COVID deaths directly related to obesity could have been prevented and billions of dollars saved? How many children would not be put on diabetes medications this year?
America was fought for and founded on the principle of respecting freedom of choice. COVID is NOT going to wipe out the human race. It can, however, destroy friendships, families, and our society with hate as is contained in Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue. Don’t let it get the best of you and destroy the goodness that makes America the beacon of hope to others in the world. What would the US have thought of you if you behaved this way and mocked Prince’s death for overdosing (preventable and his choice) and even had weekly TV events to mock the dead by name of the victims of AIDS during the AIDS epidemic? Are average American’s lives worth less to you than celebrity lives?
Third, US physicians refusing to treat unvaccinated patients has been given media attention. It is, in my opinion, a violation of the Hippocratic Oath to refuse to treat those in need in order to make a political statement.
I have had COVID despite being vaccinated. In 18 months of seeing COVID patients, not once did I shy away from doing battle with the virus. I treated everyone because it was the right thing to do. It was the American thing to do. And, ALL physicians take the Hippocratic Oath which means we MUST do our due-diligence in reading and understanding the scientific research, not just the opinions of a small group of individuals.
In my military career, I spent nearly 3 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. In combat, I treated wounded Taliban and many other insurgents that had committed brutality that would have even made Charles Manson cringe. I treated them with the same standard of care that I afforded our brave American and Allied wounded warriors. I did it without reservation, without a second thought, because it was the right thing to do. It was the American thing to do. It was expected of me, and it is expected of ALL American health professionals working in US hospitals.
Someday, the pandemic will end. Extremist views and actions will make it difficult, if not impossible, to resume civil behavior between Americans who became adversaries during the crisis. Imagine pushing women and children overboard to get the last seat on a Titanic lifeboat, and then trying to meet up with the survivors once back on dry land.
True character often emerges during crisis. The brave at heart show bravery. Cowards run away. The truly evil take pleasure in tormenting others during their time of duress. I have made my share of public and private gaffes, especially in the ‘heat of the moment.’ Your monologue, however, was not a drunken rant or angry retort in an argument but instead was a well-planned, well thought out dialogue with very specific and hurtful terms you chose to use to thunderous applause from the audience. It is the natural progression in America these days from public education to public pressure to where we are at cancel culture now.
Jimmy Kimmel, to paraphrase the Bible: You have been weighed. You have been measured. You have been found wanting.
Look in the mirror and see if this is who you want to be when COVID is behind us. Apologize to the American people. Regain your humility and humanity that you have shown so many times before. You sought empathy for your son’s medical issues in the past. Now give that empathy back to fellow Americans. Start to mend the bridge that used to connect us as Americans.
Penned under a pseudonym due to US Medical organizations trending towards censoring physicians
This letter is the opinion of the author and does not represent the stance of any organizations or corporations