“Doctors and nurses responding to the Covid-19 pandemic are the superheroes of our age, putting themselves at risk to save the lives of others.
At least 61 doctors and nurses have died from the coronavirus in Italy so far. Already, in New York City alone, two nurses have died and more than 200 health workers are reported sick at a single major hospital.
These superheroes are at risk partly because we sometimes send them into battle without adequate personal protective equipment, or P.P.E. This should be a national scandal, and now hospitals are compounding the outrage by punishing staff members who speak up or simply try to keep themselves safe.
In Bellingham, Wash., an E.R. doctor, Ming Lin, pleaded on social media for better protections for patients and the staff at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, where he had worked for 17 years.
“I do fear for my staff,” Dr. Lin warned. “Morally, I think when you see something wrong, you have to speak out.”
The hospital responded by terminating Dr. Lin.
Dr. Lin told me that he had no regrets, but he asked supporters not to circulate petitions on his behalf for fear that such an effort would distract from managing the pandemic.
Charles Prosper, the C.E.O. of the hospital network, wouldn’t take my call, although he said in a statement that he regretted losing “such a longstanding and talented member of our medical staff.” The PeaceHealth board should recognize that its hospital has more need for an experienced E.R. doctor than for a bungling C.E.O.”