3 Miss. doctors say they were fired after speaking up about COVID-19 safety

A third doctor and nurse say they were fired after speaking up about COVID-19 safety

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A third doctor and a nurse now say they have been fired after raising concerns about COVID-19 safety measures inside hospitals.

The doctors worked in north Mississippi facilities, two in Oxford.

One of the doctors has hired an attorney, claiming she was fired within hours of trying to keep patients and her staff safe.

Another doctor raised concerns after becoming worried there was not enough Personal Protection Equipment in her hospital.

Dr. Jennifer Bryan, Chair of the Board of Trustees for MSMA, says doctors should be able to speak freely about COVID-19 concerns without fear of retribution.
Dr. Jennifer Bryan, Chair of the Board of Trustees for MSMA, says doctors should be able to speak freely about COVID-19 concerns without fear of retribution. (Source: WLBT)

Dr. Jennifer Bryan, the Chair of the Mississippi State Medical Association Board of Trustees, says while she does not have specifics on the terminations, it is concerning, especially now when healthcare professionals are working to stay safe and keep patients alive.

Dr. Bryan said, “When they can’t speak up freely, you threaten the safety of the public and of the healthcare workers. We need to be able to rely on our physicians as well as our policy makers to make well rounded decisions. And, so, I think it’s important that physicians, whether they are self-employed or employed by someone else, are able to speak up for safety without fear of retribution."

“It’s sad,” she continued. "We need all hands on deck. This is a time for coming together, so any case that we get of a termination, and certainly I don’t know all the details, but it’s worrisome in the middle of a pandemic when we’re calling doctors and nurses out of retirement.”

One of the doctors, identified as Samantha Houston, says she was terminated from Baptist Memorial Hospital-North.

Pond is the Director of Public Relations and Internal Communications for Baptist Memorial Healthcare Corporation.
Pond is the Director of Public Relations and Internal Communications for Baptist Memorial Healthcare Corporation. (Source: WLBT)

Ayoka Pond, Director of Public Relations and Internal Communications for Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation, has since released a statement from the hospital responding to some of Houston’s concerns.

However, Pond said the hospital cannot comment on Dr. Houston’s employment without her permission.

“We are conserving PPE because we have a limited supply, however we do have enough for our team. Pond also states, “we have a robust telemedicine program and we’re strengthening it in light of the COVID-19 crisis. We are a regional leader in testing, diagnosing and treating COVID-19. We have been meeting 7 days a week to protect our staff and our patients and have been a leader in best practices and response around our region.”

Copyright 2020 WLBT. All rights reserved.